WBA heavyweight boxing champion Lucas Browne says he is “completely” innocent of doping, but has no idea whether he will be able to clear his name.
Browne tested positive to banned steroid clenbuterol, which boosts metabolism and burns fat, when he won his world title by beating Ruslan Chagaev in the 10th round of their fight in Grozny, Russia, on March 5.
The victory made him Australia’s first heavyweight world boxing champion.
The positive test was first reported by ESPN, citing a letter to the boxers and managers involved in the Grozny fight from the Las Vegas-based Volunteer Anti-Doping Association (VADA).
“I am completely innocent,” Browne told Perth media yesterday. “Unfortunately, social media runs wild with things like this. A lot of people I thought were friends are now jumping on the bandwagon, saying I’m a cheat when they don’t really know the story. I would like to assure all my fans, the whole of the boxing world and all of Australia that I am not a drug user or a drug cheat.”
Browne’s promoter, former British boxer Ricky Hatton, on Tuesday confirmed he had been notified of Browne’s positive test.
“We believe Lucas Browne to be a clean athlete who arrived in Chechnya a clean athlete,” Hatton said in a statement. “We are therefore conducting our own further investigations and cannot comment further at this time.”
Browne said his team organized the VADA tests before and after the fight because they did not want to use the local Russian testers.
“We outsourced it ourselves, so again it would be completely stupid for me to take something knowing we’re going to be tested... It doesn’t make sense,” Browne said.
Browne earlier said he had never heard of clenbuterol, until now. He said he has been told the substance is used as a weight-loss drug, which he said would be “utterly ridiculous” to use as a heavyweight.
Browne suggested the positive test could have resulted from sabotage.
“My team and I were well aware of the many risks involved in going to a place like Chechnya to fight a reigning champion and believed we had taken sufficient precautions,” he said in a statement on Tuesday. “In addition it was at our insistence that VADA testing was implemented for the fight.”
Browne was knocked down in the sixth round, but fought back and knocked Chagaev to the canvas in the 10th. The referee stopped the fight later that round.
Browne improved to 24-0 (21 knockouts) with the victory, in front of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
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