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WBC ‘Clears’ Conor Benn of PED Use, Eggs Are Blamed

WBC Clears Conor Benn of PED-Use, Eggs Are Blamed featured image
LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 12: Conor Benn during Eubank Jr/Benn Press Conference at Glaziers Hall on August 12, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Leigh Dawney/Getty Images)

The WBC has finally made their long-awaited ruling of Conor Benn’s status with the WBC. With the revocation of his British license after the banned substance, clompiphene, was found in his bloodstream after a series of mandatory drug tests conducted by VADA, the English Welterweight’s one chance to fight professionally was through the WBC who would have to clear him of any wrongdoing first.

The WBC, one of four major governing bodies who sanction boxing bouts around the world, was apparently Benn’s best avenue to box professionally as they seemed the only ones willing to give Benn a fair chance of competing if he produced the right documents.

In a news announcement on February 22, the WBC officially declared that they had observed Conor Benn’s case and would allow him to fight citing three factors as the main reasons for their decision:

  1. there was no conclusive evidence that Mr. Benn engaged in intentional or knowing ingestion of Clomiphene;
  2. there were no failures in the procedures related to sample collection, sample analysis, or violations of Mr. Benn’s B Sample rights that would justify questioning or invalidating the Adverse Finding; and
  3. Mr. Benn’s documented and highly-elevated consumption of eggs during the times relevant to the sample collection, raised a reasonable explanation for the Adverse Finding

The WBC also stated their intention to have their Nutrition Committee help Benn ensure a safe, healthy and drug-free diet, and they have further contacted the World Anti-Doping Agency to make them aware of the possibility of the presence of clomiphene. They additionally clarified that neither VADA – who conducted the drug tests that discovered clomiphene in Benn’s system – or Benn would be held responsible or liable for the failed test.

This news comes paired with obvious relief for Conor Benn and his team, but does not necessarily put Benn in the clear. Though the WBC, as an independent governing body, can make any decision they please based on their own investigations and rulings, it should be noted that neither UKAD (United Kingdom Anti-Doping Agency) nor the BBBofC (British Boxing Board of Control) have confirmed Benn to be fully cleared and innocent. UKAD in particular was said to have launched an investigation themselves since October, but no relevant announcement surrounding Benn’s investigation has been made since. The WBC’s decision does not make him eligible to fight in matches sanctioned by the BBBofC as he doesn’t currently have the required British license. However, he will still be able to potentially fight in Britain as his international boxing license doesn’t prevent him from fighting where he can, but there will likely be an extensive process involved that pertains to the BBBofC and UKAD.

There is also grave uncertainty surrounding the notion that Conor Benn accidentally ingested clomiphene by consuming a large amount of eggs. With none of the thorough details of the investigation likely to be released to the public, we have done the necessary work to determine whether clomiphene can exist in eggs, and how much would need to be consumed on a daily or weekly basis for the substance to show up in any tests – drug tests or otherwise – of note.

Clomiphene, a drug mostly known to be used as a fertility drug to help women get pregnant. USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) acknowledges clomiphene as a banned substance because of its anti-estrogen properties which can change testosterone levels for men, but can also be used as performance-enhancers, specifically to burn fat quicker. Conor Benn’s case is the first in the history of the sport where an athlete was deemed to have ingested clomiphene in their body due to the eating of eggs. There is also no real correlation between eggs and the presence of clomiphene within this type of food, and though it is not implausible that eggs were the reason for clomiphene in his system, this does seem to be the first case in the history of sports where this link has been drawn.

The case shows eerie similarities to that of Canelo Alvarez when clenbuterol was found in his system. This was later chalked off as a result of eating tainted meat by the boxer himself, and he was later suspended for six months following the failure of his drug test.

Following WBC’s ruling, Benn is now able to pursue a fight with anyone he wishes to. He was most recently rumored to be in talks to fight Manny Pacquiao. Given he has now been cleared, it is now likely talks will proceed and we may find both fighters making a return to the ring by the summer of 2023, or even sooner.