Tony Bellew has defended British boxer Billy Joe Saunders, insisting the middleweight is not a drugs cheat in the wake of Saunders failed drugs test in September.
The 35-year-old has always taken a strong stance against drug takers and regularly hits out at the likes of Alexander Povetkin and Luis Ortiz, both of whom have failed numerous drugs tests.
Saunders recently failed a voluntary drugs test ahead of his proposed WBO middleweight title defence against American Demetrius Andrade on October 20th in Boston, USA.
The WBO Middleweight champion tested positive for banned stimulant oxilofrine after a voluntary Anti-Doping Association test. Incidentally, oxilofrine is the same substance that has seen former sprint champions Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell banned back in 2013.
The 29-year-old's promoter Frank Warren has claimed that the stimulant originated from a ‘common nasal spray’ used by Saunders, and no action has been taken by either the UK or World Anti-Doping Agencies.
This led to Saunders voluntarily vacating his WBO Middleweight championship, due to the anguish of the failed test, and Andrade is now set to face the relatively unknown Walter Kautondokwa.
Fellow British boxer Bellew has supported Saunders, however. He doesn’t believe the Brit has done anything wrong in terms of doping and is gobsmacked that he’s being compared to others who have taken far worse substances in the past.
Speaking to ESPN, Bellew said: “If you’re talking about fighters who have taken over-the-counter products like Billy Joe or Dillian Whyte, I’ve got an enormous amount of sympathy for them.
“I don’t class Whyte as a steroid cheat because he drank a drink he got over the counter. If it’s proven that Saunders sniffed a nasal spray, I believe the person who gave it to him knew,” continued the Scouse cruiserweight turned heavyweight.
“Billy would never have taken a steroid. I know that because I have spent a lot of time around Billy Joe.
“Luis Ortiz is a banned steroid cheat [nandrolone in 2017]. Alexander Povetkin twice tested positive for meldonium and ostarine in 2016, and is a cheating scumbag.
“Guys who inject steroids into themselves, there’s no condoning that. If a guy smokes a spliff, OK it’s wrong, he’s out of order but he’s not putting anyone in danger. But it’s these bulls****ers who are taking performance-enhancing drugs who are at a different level.
“Billy Joe can’t even spell oxilofrine,” joked Bellew as he continued his passionate defence of his fellow British fighter.
“He doesn’t know what that is but I’m pretty sure everyone in boxing knows who gave him it. I’m pretty sure they know why he was given it. He did not know that. Whoever gave it him needs banning.
“Billy Joe Saunders has not taken a performance-enhancing drug injected into him like Ortiz, like Povetkin. Billy hasn’t done that. I know Billy is no cheat.”
Speaking of his own experiences of drug testing, the Tony Bellew revealed he has been tested a numerous amount of times in the lead up to his highly-anticipated fight against Oleksandr Usyk for the WBA, WBO, WBC, IBF and Ring Magazine titles on November 10.
“I’ve been tested five times in eight weeks ahead of this fight. The only problem I have is the 6am calls but that’s what it takes to keep this sport clean.
“They’re f*cking my sleep up a bit and I’ve had a pint of blood taken in eight weeks, which isn’t good for recovery, but the sport is going the right way and we need to keep testing fighters,” continued the Bomber, who has dropped back down to cruiserweight to challenge Usyk.
“We need to keep testing the ones who have failed again because you usually find once a cheat, always a cheat.”