Oscar Valdez tested positive for phentermine, a central nerve stimulant banned by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, multiple sources told ESPN.
The banned substance was found in Valdez’s A and B samples, sources said, potentially jeopardizing his 130-pound WBC title defense against Robson Conceição on September 10.
A decision is expected soon on Valdez’s status for the September 10 fight in Tucson, Arizona, a Top Rank Boxing on the ESPN + main event. Samples A and B were taken on August 13.
The WBC held a videoconference meeting on Wednesday with Valdez’s attorney Pat English, as well as officials from Top Rank and the Pascua Yaqui Tribe Athletic Commission, sources said. A decision is expected shortly. This commission sanctions very few fights annually, but as this fight falls within its competence and its reserve, its participation was necessary Wednesday.
Top Rank declined to comment, as did Valdez manager Frank Espinoza and WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman. VADA founder Margaret Goodman did not answer a phone call asking for comment.
VADA informed relevant parties of the test result on Sunday, sources said. The test was carried out as part of the WBC Clean Boxing program.
“Personally, I’ve given phentermine to athletes, I know what it does. It’s very potent. It’s like methamphetamine,” BALCO founder Victor Conte told ESPN. Conte served a prison sentence after pleading guilty to conspiring to distribute performance-enhancing drugs before founding SNAC, a sports nutrition company.
“Do you know why it’s a performance enhancing drug? Because it’s a central nervous stimulant,” he added. “It gets your heart rate up. It gives you energy. It gives you stamina. It gives you endurance. It makes breathing easier. Your training time to exhaustion would be much longer. long.”
When fighters register for VADA tests, as 30-year-old Valdez did, they are told that there is no distinction between in-competition and out-of-competition. A list of prohibited substances – phentermine is included in it – is sent to the combatant.
The World Anti-Doping Agency considers phentermine a substance prohibited in competition but not out of competition. The competition period begins at 11:59 p.m. the day before the fight and extends to post-fight testing. However, the VADA tests all prohibited substances at all times.
“If you are not tested for stimulants, there is such a big loophole that you can drive a Mack truck in it,” Conte said. “Which of the 70 stimulants would you like to use? “
In a legal letter obtained by ESPN on Tuesday, English wrote: “Mr. Valdez did not know he was taking Phentermine and that we believe at this point to be from herbal tea.”
“It is not an herbal tea, the molecular structure of phentermine is not an herbal tea,” Conte said. “This is homework dog eating stuff. No promoter wants to waste money. It’s not in the supplements. This is designed to help you lose weight. It’s an appetite suppressant. which is what you are doing when you cut weight.
“It’s a prescription-only drug. Does it have a doctor’s prescription? Let’s see that.”
VADA reports unfavorable analytical results; he does not judge. However, there is precedent for VADA rules leading to sanctions. Billy Joe Saunders tested positive for the banned stimulant oxilofrin ahead of his scheduled title defense against Demetrius Andrade in 2018. The substance was ruled out of competition by WADA, but Massachusetts admitted the VADA violation and suspended Saunders. The fight was called off accordingly.
Top Rank promotes both Valdez and Conceição, but the challenger’s manager has been told of the unfavorable conclusion by ESPN.
“I had no idea. I’m upset,” said Sergio Batarelli, Brazilian coach of Conceição. “I am now learning from you by surprise. “
ESPN’s No.1 junior lightweight Valdez won the title with a spectacular knockout blow against Miguel Berchelt in February, the main knockout contender of the year. The two-time Olympian was also a champion at 126 pounds.
Valdez (29-0, 23 KOs) was beaten by Conceição in the 2009 Pan American Games gold medal match. Conceição (16-0, 8 KOs) won gold at the 2016 Olympics. 32-year-old Brazilian is unrated by ESPN.
Lou DiBella, who promotes WBC junior lightweight No.2 O’Shaquie Foster, is asking that Valdez be stripped of the title unless the B-sample comes back negative for the banned substance.
“Unless Valdez is justified, O’Shaquie should fight [Miguel] Berchelt (the No.1 contender) for the title and this kid (Valdez) would have to face some ramifications, ”DiBella told ESPN. “Every PED expert on Earth will tell you that this is a PED and an unfair advantage in losing weight if you’re in trouble. And that helps you in your training. “