Oscar Valdez is the Latest Example of the Boxing’s Problematic Side
Oscar Valdez (29-0, 23 KOs) will make the first defense of the WBC world junior lightweight title against Robson Conceicao (16-0, 8 KOs) on September 10 at the Casino Del Sol in Tucson, Arizona, live on ESPN. However, as the fight draws closer, it has become clouded with controversy. On August 28, the defending champion’s A-sample drug test showed elements of the stimulant Phentermine. For those unfamiliar with Phentermine, it’s a drug that can aid a user in losing weight. Valdez’s B-sample also tested positive for Phentermine on September 2.
One would think this would spell trouble for Valdez, and the fight against Conceicao would get canceled, right? Not exactly. According to ESPN, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe Athletic Commission has ruled the fight will go on as scheduled. The WBC said they will also sanction the fight.
Let’s try to untangle this complicated web. The Pascua Yaqui Tribe adheres to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) guidelines. Under WADA rules, Phentermine does not fall under the list of banned substances. However, both fighters signed on to the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) drug screening program, which lists the drug as a banned substance. In short, despite the discovery of the positive drug tests by Valdez, they are essentially ignoring that to have this fight take place!
Technically, WADA has no ruling or governing power in this situation. Plus, there is a precedent of athletic commissions abiding by VADA’s ruling to reprimand a fighter.
In October 2018, Billy Joe Saunders was on schedule to defend the WBO world 160-pound strap against Demetrius Andrade. A month before that bout, Saunders popped positive for banned stimulant oxilofrine during a VADA drug test. The Massachusetts state athletic commission goes by the WADA testing program, but accepted VADA’s ruling.
Saunders got stripped of the title and his purse was suspended. So, the questions are, if the Massachusetts commission accepted VADA’s ruling regarding Saunders, why can’t the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and WBC do the same when it comes to Valdez v Conceicao?
Valdez dropped a video on Instagram to maintain his innocence. He says he’s a clean fighter and never used an illegal substance to amplify his performance. Those claims have fallen on deaf ears. Fans and fellow boxers have expressed outright disgust over the matter.
Folks are hollering there’s a double standard and alleging he is being given a major pass. It’s understandable why folks are upset. Yet at the end of the day, Valdez v Conceicao will carry on.
Call this a discrepancy between VADA and WADA. Call this the WBC being guilty of favoritism. Or, simply call this yet another case of the sordid web that is the sweet science.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.