Everything You Need to Know About Billy Joe Saunders’ Failed Drug Test

Published 03/20/2021, 11:12 PM EDT
Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders Head to Head Press Conference at the Landmark Hotel on October 22, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)


WBO super-middleweight champion, Billy Joe Saunders, will face his long-time rival, Canelo Alvarez. The two have shared a troubled history between them and will look to put it to bed with their bout. So ahead of their meeting, let’s look back at the time when Saunders failed a drug test.

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STEVENAGE, ENGLAND – MAY 04: Billy Joe Saunders takes part in a workout session at The Lamex Stadium on May 04, 2019 in Stevenage, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

The Englishman has had his fair share of controversies outside the boxing ring. However, in the ring, his biggest controversy came back in 2018 when he failed a drug test conducted before his high-profile bout against Demetrius Andrade.

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Back then, Saunders fought in the middleweight category and had held the WBO belt since 2015. As he prepared for a title defense against Andrade, the champion tested positive for a performance-enhancing stimulant, Oxilofrine.

The Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency conducted the test before the fight and found traces of the stimulant. As a result, the WBO stripped Saunders of his title and slapped a six-month ban on him. However, they later lifted the ban, and Saunders returned to competition as the number one contender in the WBO rankings.

READ: Canelo Alvarez: How Hard Does the P4P King Hit?

Why did Billy Joe Saunders take the stimulant?

Performance-enhancing drugs are a serious problem in any professional sport and are punished with strict action. So it may surprise some that a champion like Saunders was careless enough to take a substance like that. So why did he have Oxilofrine in his system?

The unbeaten boxer claimed it resulted from him using a common decongestant nasal spray, and therefore, he was unaware of the substance. However, there is also another aspect to consider in this situation.

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LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 16: Billy Joe Saunders defeats Willie Munroe Jr for the WBO World Middleweight Title fight at Copper Box Arena on September 16, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Leigh Dawney/Getty Images)

The governing bodies in the UK do not ban the stimulant, Oxilofrine, except for fight nights. This means that the fighter can use it out of competition to enhance his physical attributes. Moreover, Oxilofrine is a substance that helps in burning fat and reducing weight. Therefore, it is useful for a fighter to make weight before a bout.

Following that episode, ‘Superb’ has not competed as a middleweight and moved to the higher weight class. He became a champion again and has not tested positive for any substance since.

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Leonardo Carvalho

845 articles

Leonardo Carvalho is a Boxing Writer for EssentiallySports. Before working as a boxing web journalist, Leonardo dabbled in roles ranging from an SEO specialist to a Chegg expert. Alongside his current role, Leonardo runs a YouTube channel where he combines his passion for fitness with sports.

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