Start of groundbreaking WBC/VADA drug program pushed back
When the WBC and VADA announced in May it would be working together to form a groundbreaking new drug-testing program to clean up the sport, it was rightfully met with blaring headlines and pats on the back.
Dubbed the “Clean Boxing Program,” the plan was to randomly test for blood and urine year-round of all titleholders, as well as the top 15 fighters of each weight-division in the WBC free of cost to the boxers to ensure matches are fought on level footing. Those who don’t comply with the program would be removed from the rankings.
Yet three months after the program was first publicized, officials haven’t exactly gotten the cooperation they would have hoped. As of Wednesday, only around a quarter of the 272 boxers required to enroll have signed up, forcing organizers to push back the launch date from Aug. 9 to Sept. 9 to give boxers extra time to register.
Dr. Margaret Goodman, president of the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) told RingTV.com in an email on Tuesday that she and WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman met and decided to push back the grace period to Sept. 9.
“This program really is unprecedented and it will take time for fighters and their reps to get used to it,” she said in an email of the enrollment process. “It’s not about punishment; it’s about supporting clean sport.”
Sulaiman plans to send letters to promoters alerting them of the situation and of the consequences involved for not signing up, she said. “If they have not submitted paperwork by 9/9 they WILL be dropped from the WBC rankings,” Dr. Goodman said.
Despite the minor setback, Dr. Goodman was still confident the program will be a model for others in the sport to follow. Well-known fighters such as Gennady Golovkin, Kell Brook, Deontay Wilder and even Lucas Browne, who recently tested positive for a banned substance, have already signed up, she said. And the hope is that once the WBC/VADA program starts, it will be the standard for other sanctioning bodies to follow and adopt similar measures, Dr. Goodman said. (More information on the Clean Boxing Program can be found at: http://wbcboxing.com/WBCVADA/)