The finest excuses from the dopiest rope-a-dopers.
I don’t know about you, but part of me thinks that Conor Benn wasn’t trying to get pregnant when he failed his most recent drug test. Given that men account for roughly 0% of pregnancies, the fertility drug found in the British boxer’s system may not have helped him conceive.
To make matters worse, that failed doping test ruled him out of his super-fight against Chris Eubank Jr in early October. But what if you were one of those desperately unlucky boxers? What if those pesky testers found a fertility drug, steroids or human growth hormone in your system for reasons other than athletic enhancement? Don’t worry, your fellow fighters have come up with a smörgåsbord of barmy excuses to explain your troubles away.
blame the food
A useful place to start is with tainted meat, or even a nefarious cup of tea. Just a few months ago, Mexican featherweight Óscar Valdez told ESPN that the switch from coffee to herbal tea was responsible for the phentermine found in his positive drugs test. The fact that the drug also happens to be useful in cutting weight was, obviously, a coincidence.
On the food front, plenty of Mexican and US fighters have had the luxury of falling back on the old tainted beef excuse whenever clenbuterol – a substance used to build lean muscle mass – is detected in their samples. Sadly, the clenbuterol-fed cows option isn’t available to UK-based fighters, but it seems dodgy meat is everywhere.
Why not emulate the ‘I ate uncastrated wild boar’ explanation given by Tyson Fury and his cousin Hughie back in 2015? Let’s face it, which of us hasn’t received a dish of uncastrated boar offal at a restaurant, after we specifically asked for castrated? In fairness to the pair, they wisely hedged their bets on that one, suggesting that the nandrolone could also have come from uncastrated pig offal – or, alternately, the equally plausible ‘contaminated supplement’.
blame your family
The contaminated supplement excuse can make the boxer appear more gormless than guilty. Indeed, the past is paved with absurdly-named products that athletes have blamed for positive tests. Step forward Superpharm, Dynamita Recovery and Ripped Fuel. You’d think a boxer might avoid a product called Ripped Fuel, but some of us are just trusting.
Sometimes too trusting. Take the case of British featherweight Abdul-Bari Awad, also known as Kid Galahad. He was innocently going about his life when the anabolic steroid stanozolol wormed its way into his testing sample. But how did it get there? According to the boxer, his brother spiked one of his supplements after the pair fell out ‘for which the brother has now proved an admission’.
But what if you don’t have a sibling or coach to blame? No problem. Just dust off a good old-fashioned conspiracy theory.
blame the chechens
With these types of excuses, try not to be too specific. Instead, a vague allusion to a national conspiracy might be easier to swallow. After Lucas Browne failed a drug test when fighting in Chechnya in 2016, the Australian heavyweight’s promoter, Ricky Hatton, came out swinging. In the post-fight statement, Hatton insisted (twice, in the same statement) that Browne arrived in Chechnya as a clean athlete, before mentioning ‘testing scandals in and around Russian and Eastern European states.’
In his own statement, equally as vituperative as his promoter’s, Browne added that he ate only in the host hotel before the fight and that, ‘my team and I were well aware of the many risks involved in going to a place like Chechnya to fight a reigning champion.’
blame your shameful impotence
If you haven’t been the victim of a conspiracy, why not dredge up an embarrassing medical condition? It seems clomifene, the fertility drug found in Conor Benn’s sample, has crept into other athletes’ samples. At the time of writing, 27 athletes had been sanctioned for clomifene use on the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) site alone.
British boxer Adam Machaj blamed getting caught with this drug on erectile dysfunction, but UK Anti Doping didn’t quite agree with his ‘medically unorthodox’ treatment. Turns out, when Machaj appeared in an episode of SAS: Who Dares Wins on Channel 4, he was questioned about the clomifene tablets found among his possessions. He applied for a therapeutic use exemption for clomifene the day after the broadcast, which wasn’t exactly a great look. So, if you must make an erectile dysfunction excuse, maybe don’t get caught with banned substances while on national television.
deceive, inveigle and obfuscate
The worst thing you can do, however, is admit guilt – at least not until you need a hook for your autobiography. Upon hearing of your failed test, obliquely comparing yourself to persecuted historical figures on Instagram sometimes helps, as does a self-righteous Bible quote. Blaming the media and keyboard warriors play well, too. But be careful what you say.
The Tony Thompson approach of telling various media outlets that doping should be legalised wasn’t a great look, especially considering he subsequently failed a drug test. And on the absolute off-chance you’ve been caught with anabolic steroids, maybe don’t speak about it on Facebook first, like super middleweight Craig Windsor Jr, who was caught posting lines like: ‘Did anvar there makes u stronger not put on weight makes u hard’, and the marginally more incriminating, ‘this will be first pro fight on gear’.
get off scot-free
Have faith. When all else fails, sex could save you. Back in 2020, US boxer Virginia Fuchs failed a drugs test after a class of banned hormone and metabolic modulators were found in her urine sample. Fuchs protested her innocence. After investigating the case, the USADA found that Fuchs’ partner owned substances containing the banned ingredients and their presence in Fuchs’ sample were consistent with sexual transmission.