Boxing

Tyson Fury may only return to boxing next year..

Tyson Fury's hopes of returning to boxing dealt yet another serious blow

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Tyson Fury's hopes of a quick return to the ring have been dealt a blow after the British Boxing Board of Control refused to lift his suspension from the sport until his doping case is resolved.

Fury, having vacated his IBO, WBA, and WBO heavyweight titles citing depression last October, then had his boxing licence revoked only a day later due to a failed drug test. 

The 28-year-old had failed a test for cocaine abuse in the United States and was charged for the use of prohibited substances by the UK Anti-Doping Agency (UKAD). 

Fury's National Anti-Doping Panel, that was due to be convened this month, was postponed with no new date being set out.

This will come as a massive worry to the Manchester-born fighter, who recently returned to training as he looks to return to the sport.

However, the process of getting UKAD back on side could be a much more arduous one than Fury initially anticipated.

Frank Warren, Fury's promoter, was hopeful that the BBBofC or sports minister Tracey Crouch would intervene, describing the delays in Fury's doping hearing as a "liberty".

It is clear, however, that the BBBofC, who could, in theory, lift the ban at any time, will not act until Fury is cleared by UKAD or has served whatever ban may be given to him by the panel.

General Secretary of the BBBofC, Robert Smith, told Press Association sport: "The BBBoC is awaiting the outcome of the UKAD hearing and at present his boxing licence is suspended until such time, after which the BBBoC will consider Mr Fury's position further." 

Boxing at Paisley Lagoon Centre

It is also clear as day that no sports minister or politician will meddle with the anti-doping process.

The Fury camp is said to be extremely frustrated by this news, given that he has not taken to the ring in 18 months since his titanic bout with Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015, a feat recently overshadowed by Anthony Joshua's stunning win over the same opponent.

There is also no doubting that, were Fury to be given his licence back, a bout with Anthony Joshua would be an absolute blockbuster at both the box office and with broadcasters.

On the other hand, this is also a hugely significant case for UKAD, who, under the guidance of new chairman Trevor Pearce, a former director of the National Crome agency, have been lobbying government for more funding.

Both Fury and his cousin Hughie have been under careful scrutiny from the agency after traces of an anabolic steroid known as nandrolone were found in their urine samples in February 2015.

Boxing at Copper Box

After strongly denying any wrongdoing, the pair were only charged with an anti-doping offence in June 2016, on the same day that Fury postponed a fight with Klitschko due to a sprained ankle.

The initial samples were not strong enough to incur any anti-doping rule violations, especially after follow-up tests did not corroborate with them, and as a result, both Fury and Hughie were allowed to continue fighting.

However, those suspicious samples led to a number of extra tests which eventually led to UKAD's decision to charge the pair.

Fury's current fragile standing with UKAD is further complicated by the news that he refused to give a sample to a doping officer last year - news recently revealed by his promoter. 

"His big problem was, when they went for his test, Tyson told them to f*** off," the promoter told Press Association Sport.

Boxing at Copper Box

"He filmed it; I've seen it. He said: 'What you've done to me is persecute me'. This is when he wasn't feeling too good.

"Then (his uncle and trainer) Peter Fury found out and called them, an hour later. He said: 'Can you come back?' And they wouldn't come back."

A refused test is considered the same as a failure under World Anti-Doping rules and the initial punishment for a first time intentional offence is a four-year ban.

Fury's mental state, as well as his uncle's attempt to bring the tester back, are clearly mitigating factors in this case.

All of this should have been presented by Fury's legal team - led by Canadian lawyer James Bunting - at the hearing in London this month, but the case was halted when UKAD's representative Jonathan Taylor objected to a member of the three-person panels undeclared conflict of interest.

BOX-GBR-UKR-FURY-KLITSCHKO-HEAVY-WBA-WBO

In such cases, a conflict of interest is not uncommon, given that these panels are made up of senior lawyers, and, although they are usually resolved before the case begins, this one seemed to slip through unnoticed.

As a result, a new panel must be assembled - something that is only likely to happen in the Autumn.

Fury's hopes of fighting on the Billy Joe Saunders-Avtandil Khurtsidze undercard in London in July are in tatters and more realistic target for his return, given that all goes his way with the panel and BBBofC, would be the beginning of next year.

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