Saturday 17 August 2019

Anthony Joshua on how boxing’s doping problem has got ‘out of control’

Anthony Joshua. John Walton/PA Wire
Anthony Joshua. John Walton/PA Wire

Declan Taylor

Anthony Joshua believes the worrying case of Jarrell Miller proves that boxing’s doping problem is now ‘out of control’.

Brooklyn’s ‘Big Baby’ Miller was supposed to challenge Joshua for his IBF, WBO and WBA heavyweight titles at Madison Square Garden on 1 June until he failed a series of Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) tests in late March.

Miller tested positive for human growth hormone, EPO and GW1516 which ended his hopes of fighting for the belts this summer in an encounter which would have also earned him around £5m.

Instead, Joshua will face Mexican-American Andy Ruiz Jr at the iconic Manhattan venue next month but the Londoner admits he is now deeply worried about the trend of performance-enhancing drug use in the heavyweight division.

Joshua’s last opponent, Alexander Povetkin, as well as Cuban Luis Ortiz, who rejected the chance to fight AJ in New York, have both served bans for doping. Closer to home, Tyson Fury accepted a backdated two-year ban from UK Anti-Doping in 2017 after testing positive for elevated levels of the anabolic steroid nandrolone.

“These are top, top guys,” Joshua said. “How are they getting to the top? That’s what you need to question.

“I fucking find it hard, imagine me with a needle in my arse every now and again – I’d be flying. It’s hard.

“But when you look down that list of top heavyweights and you look everybody who has had it, how did they manage to get to the top? It’s so difficult. It is out of control I would say.”

Before he was caught himself, Miller had made a point of accusing Joshua of honing his physique with the help of PEDs but the 2012 Olympic gold medalist says he is tested rigorously all year round by UKAD and in camp by the VADA.

However, he believes a general apathy towards drug testing in the sport is causing serious damage and says it has reached a point where only a tragedy might provoke a serious change.

“It’s weird because even though it’s happening, it’s not being taken as serious as possible by the people in charge,” he added. “It’s a bit like racism in football, even though it’s happening it’s not being taken that seriously.

“Tyson Fury had his issues as well but he’s fighting again and it’s forgotten about. Maybe it would take something serious to happen like a death in the ring before anything changes.

“So what can be done? You fight your corner, you do it the right way and you talk for your people. I can’t talk for Miller, Povetkin. But my team is the best in the business.

“I’m tested more than 16 times a year, probably 16 times in each camp. I have tests done by UKAD and VADA. UKAD is whereabouts, so every three months I have to submit my whereabouts. Let them know where I’m going to be sleeping where I’m going to be two times in a day, so they can turn up.

“If you change that, if you stay out with a girl, you’ve got to let them know that!”

Despite testing positive for what Joshua described as ‘the proper stuff’, the World Boxing Association handed Miller a measly six-month ban, meaning he will be able to box again as early as September.

But undefeated Joshua, who is now 22-0 with 21 KOs, is not against the idea of lifetime bans for the most serious doping offenders.

“A six-month ban? I haven’t fought for nine months. I could have taken HGH after fighting Alexander Povetkin, got caught, taken six months out and still fought in June,” Joshua said.

“It doesn’t put any fear in fighters. Maybe they should regulate it so you know what the ban is. You think ‘I’m not even going to take the risk because that’s a lifetime ban’. Miller was on the proper stuff, man. I know it’s the hard stuff. He should be looked at as a serious, serious case.

“Imagine I would’ve fought him, I might not have been the same fighter again. He might have taken something out of him for being so relentless.

“I don’t know how the decisions are made but it would be better to know that whatever he was on, that’s a lifetime ban. So even before it’s announced, you think ‘he’s fucked’.

“It’s like on the street, if you carry a weapon, it’s one sentence, if you use that weapon it’s another thing. If you use one drug, that’s one thing, use another, it’s another situation. It’s better to make it clear.

“There should be lifetime bans. We should take it case by case but lifetime bans? Yes. When your man is doing the hardcore, hardcore, hardcore stuff there should be consequences.”

Either way, it will not be Miller in the opposite corner to Joshua but Ruiz Jr, who broke from his usual quiet man mode to label Joshua a ‘big robot’.

The world heavyweight champion responded: “Wow. he’s started his trash talk already.

“You don’t want to talk because this robot will whoop him. I thought he was a cool guy and I was going to go in there and beat him up slowly.

“But if he talks reckless, I will batter him. You can’t push these buttons, I’ll punish you.”

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