Conor Benn spoke to a UK tabloid about his positive drug tests this week only to receive a polarizing response.
Benn followed up his statement in response to the British Board upholding a misconduct charge. It did him no favors with some UK fans to speak to a newspaper WBN will not name.
The British boxing community wanted answers from Benn. Unfortunately, the world welterweight title contender only served to stir up more uncertainty.
Fans wanted to know how a failed test came back with an adverse finding. Benn would only confirm that he did fail two tests but didn’t say how.
Conor Benn blames contamination
Blaming contamination for both doesn’t seem like the best defense for Benn, who took flak from those who once supported his endeavors.
After Benn put out a social media post stating the apology would be louder than the accusations, one commenter said: “So one test was faulty and the other contaminated, of course. I’m still confused, though. When do I start apologizing to Conor?”
Another asked: “Why did he not examine why after the first failed test?
“Why didn’t he take private tests and stop current supplementation? This would be far cheaper than lawyers.
“He [Conor] and [Eddie] Hearn are trying to normalize failed tests while thousands of athletes test clean each year.”
A third said: “Wouldn’t want to fight without this being resolved?” He literally tried to fight after failing two VADA tests.
“So he’s happy to fight on drugs if only he knows. But once the public knows his image is damaged and his revenue stream is affected, that’s when it becomes an issue?”
Benn is not the only one in the firing line. Hearn is also the target of questions from fans.
“When someone is so caught up in his own lies, he’s even convinced himself he’s right, and everyone else is wrong. The same goes for Eddie Hearn.”
Previously, the British Boxing Board of Control looked into the “VADA issue” Benn mentioned in his response. However, Benn only accused the UK’s top boxing authority of bias.
Now that he’s confirmed there was clomifene in the test, the need to know how it got there has increased significantly.
Nonetheless, Benn’s goal seems to be undoing an unjust campaign against his previous good name.
“Conor’s focus at this time is solely on clearing his name,” read the statement.
“The board, however, has made it extremely difficult for Conor to focus on doing that by its conduct of an unfair and biased procedure.”
Giving up his license in a further move that brought more questions than answers, Benn’s team added: “In such circumstances, Conor decided not to renew his license [which had lapsed].
“Conor told the Board that if it did not accept that his license had lapsed, he would renounce it.”
But fans don’t want pushing back. They want an explanation of how and why this “issue” exists.
They also want to know why a fight they paid good money to see for hotels and travel expenses got called off two days before the Chris Eubank Jr. catchweight fight at the O2 Arena in London.
Additionally, the Board has charged Benn with misconduct for an unrelated situation. The problems continue to mount.
“He strongly refutes the allegation of misconduct [which for the avoidance of doubt is *not* in relation to the VADA issue] and firmly believes that an independent tribunal will reach a wholly different conclusion.”
An independent tribunal could only serve to deflect from the central talking point surrounding Benn. And again, that’s how and why this whole circumstance came to fruition.
Benn seems happy to drag out his stance of waiting until a hearing to clear his name. However, not keeping the fans in the loop and speaking to certain tabloid newspapers makes the social media trolling campaign against him longer and more damaging.
“At an appropriate time, Conor will speak out on this and the doping allegation to the extent that he can while legal proceedings are ongoing.
“In the meantime, he reiterates, in no uncertain terms, that he is a clean athlete.”
Those legal proceedings will either be against the whistleblower who told a UK newspaper about the test and subsequently killed the Eubank event or possibly one or both of VADA and the BBBofC.
But why the public and media get forced to speculate remains a mystery. Nothing about this whole mess seems to be transparent. Despite the interview, Benn still hadn’t divulged how the substance might have gotten into his system.
Promoter Eddie Hearn is talking about potential contamination. But Benn himself is saying absolutely nothing about which supplement or food.
The whole scenario reached a fever pitch after the Board released a statement on Wednesday.
“By a notice dated 17th October 2022, Mr. Conor Benn got called by the Board of the BBBofC to attend a hearing to deal with allegations of misconduct pursuant to Rule 25.1.1.
“The hearing took place on 21 st October 2022. On the morning of the hearing, Mr. Benn voluntarily relinquished his license with the BBBofC.
“In accordance with its Rules and Regulations, the Board determined the allegations following the hearing at which Mr. Benn was legally represented.
“The allegations of misconduct against Mr. Benn were upheld.”
Nothing in that statement alluded to possible action over the VADA test, meaning fans and media have to wait for the eventual outcome on the “trace amounts.”
While this drags on, Benn cannot fight in the United Kingdom and would have to apply for a license elsewhere to continue his career.
Whether UK fans would back that move without more clarity over the VADA testing procedure is another story.
Trace amounts still mean you are guilty of an adverse finding, though. At the very least, Benn is looking at a suspension from VADA.
Either that or he finds an explanation that will completely blow the allegations out of the water.
Whatever happens, a world title shot is on hold.
The views expressed in this article are the opinions of Phil Jay.