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Chris Eubank Jr v Conor Benn is OFF after Benn’s positive drug test

Conor Benn’s fight with Chris Eubank Jr has been called off after Sportsmail’s revelation that Benn had tested positive for a banned substance.

Promoter Eddie Hearn was at first insistent that Saturday night’s fight at London’s O2 Arena should go on as Benn had not received the result of his B sample after traces of a clomifene were found in his system.

The British Boxing Board of Control, however, have stepped in to decree that for the catchweight contest to go on would ‘not be in the best interests’ of the sport.

Tens of millions of pounds will be lost by that decision. Both Eubank Jr and Benn were on six-figure purses for the reprise of the epic rivalry between their fathers.

This is an important move by the Board of Control, who have been hamstrung in some past cases by the threat of expensive legal action. That they have withdrawn their sanction for this event is an indicator of how serious they regard the situation.

The substance in question, clomifene, which is usually used to treat infertility in women but can increase testosterone in men, is prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Benn’s test was carried out by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association which also prohibits the substance.

Chris Eubank Jr’s (left) fight with Conor Benn (right) has been postponed by boxing authorities 

Conor Benn (pictured this week with wife Victoria) is due to fight Chris Eubank Jnr this Saturday but has failed a drugs test

Benn's fight at the O2 is the biggest of his career so far

Conor Benn, who was due to fight Chris Eubank Jr this Saturday, has failed a drugs test

That apparently took place at the end of August or the beginning of September and Benn was apparently notified two weeks ago.

Hearn was confident that subsequent tests by UKAD, the British testing body, which were negative, would be enough for the fight to go ahead.

Benn now faces a lengthy wait for confirmation or clearance via his B sample.

Whether the fight can be rescheduled will depend on that outcome. Benn has been putting on weight and muscle to come up almost two divisions for the catchweight clash.

Eubank, by direct contrast, was required to come down to three pounds under his normal welterweight.

His namesake father had expressed concern that this weight loss, as well as a rehydration clause limiting how many pounds he could put on after Friday’s scheduled weigh-in, might be dangerous for him.

That anxiety would have been increased if indeed Benn had gained weight through drug abuse.

Hearn is understood to be applying for a High Court injunction to prevent the Board pulling the plug.

Sportsmail's Riath Al-Samarrai broke the exclusive of Benn's positive drugs test this morning

Sportsmail’s Riath Al-Samarrai broke the exclusive of Benn’s positive drugs test this morning

Benn and his boxer father Nigel are pictured ahead of the 26-year-old fight this weekend

Benn and his boxer father Nigel are pictured ahead of the 26-year-old fight this weekend

WHAT IS CLOMIFENE? 

Clomifene is a powerful female fertility medicine which doubles as a performance enhancer.

It stimulates egg production in women, giving those struggling to conceive the best chance of getting pregnant.

Yet, studies suggest that when given to men as a daily pill, clomiphene triggers the production of testosterone.

Testosterone has a key role in tissue healing, carrying oxygen and nutrients to the injury site, aiding repair. However, it also makes it easier to put on muscle and offers a physical boost, hence why it is a banned substance in the world of athletics.

Sportsmail exclusively revealed on Wednesday morning that the 26-year-old was notified he had returned an adverse finding for the banned substance clomifene.

Eubank Jr still wanted the bout to go ahead. A statement from promoters Wasserman Boxing and Eddie Hearn’s matchroom, in response to Sportsmail’s exclusive, read: ‘Both fighters have taken medical and legal advice, are aware of all relevant information, and wish to proceed with the bout this Saturday.’

The positive test does not trigger an automatic ban. The British Board of Boxing Control appointed the UK Anti-Doping Agency as the anti-doping authority of this fight and Benn has not tested positive with them.

In January, Benn, a welterweight on a rocketing trajectory owing to his perfect 21-0 record, was briefly removed from the WBC world rankings for failing to enrol in their clean-athlete programme.

At the time he said in a statement: ‘The World Boxing Council (WBC) have temporarily removed me from their January rankings and have requested in order for me to continue being ranked under the WBC governing body I must officially enrol in the WBC Clean Boxing Program supported by VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association).

‘I can confirm I have instructed my team who are now in the process of enrolling me. I wanted to address this personally for the boxing community and my fans.

‘It’s important to me as a professional athlete to enrol in a clean testing programme and play my part in keeping our sport safe along with having my name stated in top five positions across all governing bodies.’

Saturday's fight was due to fall almost 30 years after the second of two iconic fights between their fathers, Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank (pictured)

Saturday’s fight was due to fall almost 30 years after the second of two iconic fights between their fathers, Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank (pictured)

Benn is currently ranked fifth with the WBC and in the top five with the other three major sanctioning bodies.

Clomifene is listed on both WADA and VADA’s prohibited lists under ‘hormone and metabolic modulators’.

Wasserman and matchroom’s joint statement today read: ‘We have been made aware that a random anti-doping test for Conor Benn conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association returned an adverse analytical finding for trace amounts of a fertility drug.

‘The B sample has yet to be tested, meaning that no rule violation has been confirmed. Indeed, Mr Benn has not been charged with any rule violation, he is not suspended and he remains free to fight.

Benn pictured in the fight's build-up, which is due to see him move up two weight classes

Benn is pictured in the fight’s build-up, which is due to see him move up two weight classes

‘Mr Benn has since passed a doping control test conducted by the UK Anti-Doping Agency, the anti-doping authority to which the British Board of Boxing Control has delegated its doping control testing for the bout. Mr Benn has passed all doping control tests conducted by UKAD.’

The British Boxing Board of Control, who are overseeing the fight, have been contacted for comment. 

Benn is moving up almost two weight classes for Saturday’s fight against his bigger rival Eubank Jr.

Eubank is a career middleweight at 160lb, while Benn usually fights at 147lb. Saturday’s fight is set at 157lb.

Last month Benn said: ‘I’m eating a lot. There’s plenty of things you can eat. I don’t eat a lot of meat, I’m not a massive fan but I’ll have steak on Saturdays.

‘I’m able to eat what I want, as long as it is healthy and clean.’

Wasserman Boxing and matchroom issued a joint statement after Sportsmail's exclusive

Wasserman Boxing and matchroom issued a joint statement after Sportsmail’s exclusive

Saturday’s fight is due to be live on streaming service DAZN, with non-subscribers paying out £27.98 to watch. £7.99-per-month subscribers are charged an additional £19.99 to watch.

In an interview with The Telegraph this week, Eubank Jr said: ‘As fighters we take chances, we gamble, and I don’t believe Conor is going to be able to take me into deep waters.

‘Maybe I’m wrong but I don’t feel that that’s what he’s going to be able to do, so I agreed to this weight.’

Undefeated Albanian boxer Florian Marku has vowed to fight Eubank Jr in London after Benn’s positive test, if their showdown was to be called off.

Marku posted on Twitter: ‘Conor fail drug test? I am not impressed. If Chris Eubank Jr wants it, I’m ready.’ 

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