No ban for boxer Povetkin in doping case

ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 18, 2016 09:45 AM
 No ban for boxer Povetkin in doping case
FILE - In this Monday, May 16, 2016 file photo, Alexander Povetkin of Russia speaks to the media during a news conference in Moscow. The WBC has decided not to ban Russian heavyweight title contender Alexander Povetkin after he tested positive for the banned substance meldonium, and has ordered him to fight Canada’s Bermane Stiverne for an interim title. The WBC said in a statement Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016 that Povetkin must undergo extra drug testing at his own expense for a year. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The WBC has decided not to ban Russian heavyweight title contender Alexander Povetkin after he tested positive for the banned substance meldonium, and has ordered him to fight Canada's Bermane Stiverne for an interim title.

Povetkin was due to face WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder of the United States in May before it was revealed he had failed a drug test in the build-up.

The fight was called off and Wilder was allowed to arrange a voluntary defense against Chris Arreola in July, which he won.

The WBC said in a statement Wednesday that Povetkin must undergo extra drug testing at his own expense for a year. But he won't be banned given "the impossibility to scientifically prove that Mr. Povetkin ingested meldonium after January 1 2016," when it became illegal in sport. If Povetkin tests positive again over the next year, he will be suspended from WBC events "indefinitely."

With Wilder injured and likely unable to fight until 2017, an interim fight with Stiverne has been ordered. There's also ongoing litigation between Povetkin and Wilder's promoters over the canceled fight.

"We won," Povetkin's promoter Andrei Ryabinsky said on Twitter. "Povetkin has been vindicated, and must now fight Stiverne because Wilder is injured. I'll still keep up the legal action against Wilder's team."

Povetkin has said he stopped taking meldonium, which has been claimed to boost stamina, last year.

The Latvian-made heart drug was widely used as a supplement in Eastern European countries until it was banned for 2016.

That was followed by more than 100 positive tests, many in Russia and neighboring countries. Almost all of the suspensions were lifted when the World Anti-Doping Agency conceded that athletes who had stopped taking it before January could still have traces in their systems for months.

However, Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova received a two-year suspension in June because she had taken meldonium after it was banned. Sharapova has appealed.

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