BOXING has long had a tarnished reputation. Last week, it became even more damaged.

More often than not, it is corruption that has done the harm and it has never been rocked by doping scandals of the magnitude that have plagued cycling and athletics. Nevertheless, there are few who believe the sport is untouched by drugs.

Last week however, boxing has managed to do as much damage to itself as some of the most shocking doping stories have done to other sports.

When Conor Benn failed a doping test, it should have been an open and shut case as to the consequence.

A positive drugs test means, in a right-thinking world anyway, an immediate suspension from their sport for the athlete, who will not be seen in a competitive environment again until their ban has been served or, as happens occasionally, their positive result is overturned.

Boxing has managed to make things much more convoluted, though.

Certainly, the timing of Benn’s positive test could not have been worse for the 26-year-old. It came just before his highly-anticipated bout with Chris Eubank Jnr, 30 years after their fathers met in the ring for the final time.

The match-up of the two sons was always far from ideal. With a catchweight of 157lbs agreed in order to make this fight possible, Eubank was forced to drastically cut his usual fighting weight which prompted his father to call for a boycott of the clash due to the dangers of having to lose so much weight.

This controversy, however, pales into insignificance when compared to the circus that followed news of Benn’s positive test.

When news broke that Benn had tested positive for the banned substance clomifene, which is typically used to treat infertility in women but can increase testosterone levels in men, the assumption was the bout would immediately be called off.

Clearly, it could not go ahead with one of the fighters having tested positive, could it?

That this was not the immediate consequence of the positive result says as much, if not more, about boxing than it says about Benn.

The talk immediately following Benn’s failed test was not about him being a doper but rather, that the fight would go ahead despite the British Board of Control prohibiting it as a sanctioned bout.

How could this be considered to be an option?

Benn and his promoter, Eddie Hearn, said since the positive test came from a voluntary drug test rather than one from the national anti-doping agency, UKAD, it should not result in the cancellation of the fight.

He was, Benn insisted, clean, and pointed to his plethora of negative tests as justification for his claim.

This may well prove to be the case, but the fact there was such a will for this fight to go ahead, despite the positive result, suggests there are some who are happy for boxing to become something akin to WWE rather than a legitimate sport.

The eventual cancellation of the bout just two days ago has done little to mitigate the damage done.

Last week has proved, as if many were in any doubt, that the priority in boxing is money, not the sport.

With both fighters in line to make seven-figure sums, plus the countless others who would have made fortunes from the bout, there was a considerable financial agenda behind the staging of this bout.

That it was cancelled in the end has salvaged a modicum of credibility for boxing. This is a sport in which people can be seriously injured, brain damaged and even killed in the blink of an eye, even when fighters are clean.

Eubank’s father, after all, was the opponent when Michael Watson sustained near-fatal injuries in 1991.

Benn may be a clean fighter. His positive test may well be nullified.

But to suggest he should still be permitted to step into the ring while there is this shadow over him would not only have disgraced those involved, it would also have defiled the sport irreparably.


It’s not too often that we have the opportunity to see the world’s best playing on Scottish soil.

So, the fact tennis’ undisputed best female player was desperate to travel to Glasgow but has been thwarted by an entirely avoidable problem of her sport’s own making is frustrating , to say the least.

The Billie Jean King Cup Finals take place at the Emirates Arena next month and despite Iga Swiatek champing at the bit to represent her home country of Poland at the event, she will not be coming because of what she calls an “unsafe schedule”, with the team tournament beginning the day after the conclusion of the WTA Finals in Texas.

There is something out of kilter when a sport cannot organise its calendar in a way that allows its best players to compete at the biggest events.

The absence of Swiatek in Glasgow is a sizeable loss for Scottish tennis fans but more than that, it is a prime example of a sport shooting itself in the foot unnecessarily.