More Questions Than Answers

After a protracted wait which no one can explain, Lucian Bute faced the press yesterday with promoter Yvon Michel and trainers Otis and Howard Grant, to discuss his positive doping test following his match with Badou Jack on April 30th. Shortly after the fight, which ended in a controversial draw decision, it was announced that the A sample of Bute’s post-fight urine test came back positive for Ostarine, a banned drug classified as a SARM (Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator). It is not a steroid, but it can have similar effects and is on the World Anti-Doping Agency list of banned substances.

Chris Ganescu, Yvon Michel and Bute at yesterday's press conference.
Chris Ganescu, Yvon Michel and Bute at yesterday’s press conference.

At that time, Bute denied knowingly taking any banned substances and insisted he has always been a clean athlete who has adhered to the rules. He pointed out that he had been tested numerous times by VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association) during training for his November match with James DeGale and all tests had come back negative. He stated he anxiously awaited the outcome of the test of the B sample of his post-fight urine test. Let’s hope he wasn’t too anxious, because it only took the Washington Athletic Commission and the World Boxing Council ten weeks to test it.

But the official results were finally made known and the B sample has also tested positive for Ostarine. And now Lucian Bute has an explanation: a supplement he took to help him sleep has also tested positive for trace amounts of Ostarine. He intends to plead to the Washington Athletic Commission, which will rule on whether the former champion will be suspended, that he never knowingly ingested a banned substance. He also intends to take legal action against Pharmagenic, the producers of the supplement.

Badou Jack, right, fights Lucian Bute during a boxing match, Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Washington. The match ended in a draw. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Bute and Jack mix it up last April.

“I am not guilty at all,” said Bute yesterday. “I never knowingly took an illegal substance.”

Yvon Michel explained that the supplement Bute used, Dynamite PM Night Fuel, was tested by KorvalLabs at Bute’s request. Michel stated that the result leaves open the possibility that the trace amounts could have been accidentally picked up during the manufacture of the supplement.

Questions come to mind. Did Bute take this same supplement during training for any previous matches, specifically the DeGale bout for which both fighters underwent random testing? Was the tainted supplement supplied to Bute by Angel Heredia also given to other boxers and did they subsequently test positive for Ostarine? Further, rumours had been circulating that some kind of error had taken place in the lab, that the urine in question wasn’t even Bute’s, but no mention of that was made yesterday, leading all to conclude the rumours have no basis in fact.

Bute training last April at the Grant Brothers gym.
Bute training last April at the Grant Brothers gym.

Our own Manny Montreal has been following this situation closely since he covered Jack vs Bute for The Fight City. He has questions too.

“Why did it take so long for them to release the results of the B-sample? The B-sample is tested at the fighter’s request, because he believes he is clean. To my knowledge, it has never taken this long before. And what do we know about this supplement? How did it get contaminated? Have other samples tested positive? Or was Bute the victim of sabotage of some kind?

“Plus, my understanding is that the amount detected in the urine was minuscule. Trace amounts. And based on what we know about Ostarine, trace amounts of this stuff represent virtually zero benefit to the athlete, which supports the idea this was an accidental ingestion or a tainted supplement. Will this be taken into account by the commission?”

The DeGale fight answered questions.
Bute battling DeGale last November.

The former champion himself indicated yesterday that no matter what the commission rules, he intends to keep fighting. Like him, everyone in the Bute camp is anxious to move forward, but that may or may not be possible.

“It’s good Lucian has the finances to do this,” said trainer Howard Grant. “If he didn’t have the finances to hire a lawyer in the States who is an expert in this field and to send all the supplements to a private lab, forget about it. They would have been lynching the guy.”

The “lynching” might still take place, so we wait to see what punishment fits the crime, accidental or not, according to the Washington Athletic Commission. Right now, that’s the biggest question of all.              — Robert Portis

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