Former light heavyweight titleholder Antonio Tarver will not work as a boxing broadcaster for Saturday night’s Showtime-televised main event between ex-welterweight titleholder Victor Ortiz and Josesito Lopez at the Staples Center in Los Angeles after testing positive for the banned anabolic steroid drostanolone, the network announced on Friday.
A regular Showtime commentator, Tarver came up dirty following a post-fight drug test administered by the California State Athletic Commission after his draw with Lateef Kayode on June 2 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
“We were made aware of the California State Athletic Commission’s report regarding Antonio Tarver’s positive drug test following his last fight on June 2 this afternoon,” wrote Showtime Sports publicist Chris DeBlasio in a statement e-mailed to RingTV.com.
“Out of respect for the fighters competing on Saturday night, Antonio and the network have mutually agreed that he will not serve as color analyst for the June 23rd boxing telecast.”
George Dodd, the CSAC’s executive director, told RingTV.com that Tarver has been suspended for his infraction and fined $2,500 of the $1.1 million purse he earned for facing Kayode. Dodd also said that Tarver-Kayode will soon be “reflected as a no-decision.”
“I have always been a proponent of a clean sport and an advocate for the most rigorous drug testing in boxing,” said Tarver, in an e-mailed prepared statement through his publicist, Norman Horton.
“The positive test results came as a complete surprise to me today. I will be examining every potential cause and ultimately, I am confident that my fans will see that I was not at anytime attempting to gain an unfair or illegal advantage in my performance.”
Tarver had indicated during an earlier response that he planned to appeal the CSAC’s decision.
“Today’s news of a false positive caught me as well as my family and supporters by surprise, I apologize for the embarrassment it caused,” wrote Tarver on his Twitter account.
“I’ll appeal and submit to the California Commission everything that I’ve consume prior to June 2 that could of caused this honest mistake.”
Promoter Gary Shaw also issued a statement.
“It’s very worrisome where our sport is heading these days with the recent array of fighters testing positive for banned substances. With all these fights being canceled its killing the sport and I hope the networks are not going to lose interest. As promoters, we do our best to make sure everyone is abiding by the rules,” stated Shaw.
“I’m happy that the commissions are stepping up their stance on catching fighters cheating, because the safety of the fighter should always come first. It’s unfortunate that in Lateef Kayode’s first major opportunity, he had to fight on what appears to be an unlevel playing field. I have a lot of respect for Antonio Tarver and would be very disappointed to find out that he knowingly took performance enhancing drugs.”
Dodd identified the banned substance as drostanolone, adding that Tarver’s “A sample came back positive.”
“Mr. Tarver has the opportunity to appeal the suspension as well as the fine,” said Dodd, “and he also has the opportunity to witness the opening and viewing of the B sample if he wishes it to be tested.”
If Tarver’s B sample returns negative, the commission will “then make a determination” concerning whether or not his penalty stands, pending an appeal by Tarver, Dodd said.
“It is my hope that Tarver requests that the B sample will be tested and will show that Tarver was clean. However, if the sample comes back dirty, then the commission should take appropriate action,” stated Shaw.
“It was a very close fight, as it was ruled a split- draw, but now that we have been informed by the California State Athletic Commission about the alleged drug use, I’ll have to talk to Lateef and his management team to see what we’ll do to resolve this matter.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]