Former light heavyweight boxing king Sergey Kovalev, who is due to return after more than a year out of the ring later this month, has asked testing chiefs to check a B sample after testing positive for synthetic testosterone.
News of the positive test, which is said to have taken place at Kovalev’s training camp on December 30, broke on Thursday afternoon – exactly two weeks before he was scheduled to face Uzbekistan-born Bektemir Melikuziev in California in a showdown that was moved from Moscow due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
That bout is now in serious doubt and, at 37, Kovalev’s career could even be on the line, although he is due a seven-figure comeback fight as part of the deal for his fight against Canelo Alvarez in November 2019.
“We are aware of the adverse finding from VADA,” Main Events CEO Kathy Duva, who is Kovalev’s longtime promoter, told BoxingScene.
BREAKING: Sergey Kovalev has tested positive for synthetic testosterone. I have obtained the VADA letter outlining the details of positive test. Means his Jan. 30 DAZN headliner with Bektemir “Bek Bully” Melikuziev likely will be canceled. #boxing
— Dan Rafael (@DanRafael1) January 14, 2021
“Sergey Kovalev has been proven to be a clean fighter throughout the many years that he has been tested by VADA. VADA was contracted for this fight at his insistence, as he has requested for almost all of his fights going back several years.
“He maintains that he did not purposefully ingest any banned substances. We have made arrangements to have his supplements tested for contamination and will request that VADA test his B sample.”
“I have obtained the [anti-doping agency] VADA letter outlining the details of the positive test. Means his Jan. 30 DAZN headliner with [Melikuziev] likely will be canceled.”
Fans reacted with frustration to the prospect of Kovalev’s return to action for the first time since his knockout defeat to Canelo being called off.
The Russian had been due to face Sullivan Barrera in April before that bout was dashed as a result of the pandemic.
Kovalev had only suffered three defeats in his formidable 38-fight career before he encountered Canelo, two of which came against revered former champion Andre Ward.
“Krusher” was in the headlines in October when he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge shortly before a felony assault trial involving a woman who had her nose broken in California was due to begin.
He was sentenced to three years’ probation, as well as being required to complete an anger management course and pay court costs.