Explained: Why was Benn suspended again by UKAD? And what next?

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Explained: Why was Benn suspended again by UKAD? And what next?

Conor Benn is once again under a provisional suspension from boxing.

The UK Anti-Doping agency (UKAD) and the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) confirmed on May 10 that they had both been successful in appealing against a decision by an independent National Anti-Doping panel that had initially lifted a suspension against Benn last July.

Jane Rumble, UKAD’s chief executive, spoke to Sky Sports in a wide-ranging interview during Clean Sport Week in which a number of issues were discussed, including Benn’s provisional suspension.

Rumble acknowledged and understands why the suspension around Benn has become a confusing situation to understand given he was initially suspended in March 2023 after twice testing positive for a banned substance before a cancelled bout with Chris Eubank Jr in October 2022.

Explaining the process, Rumble said: “In general if an athlete is found to have taken a prohibited substance and we have a finding that shows that we will notify them and then charge them and that is the situation. They can either agree with the charge or appeal that decision and if they appeal that decision then the case goes to the National Anti-Doping Panel which is an independent panel that looks at the evidence from us and the evidence from the athlete and then makes a decision.

Conor Benn

Image: Benn’s last fight was a points win over Peter Dobson in February in Las Vegas

“That decision can also be appealed either by the athlete or by UKAD. We are in a place right now where we appealed that decision, UKAD won that appeal and we are now back into a provisional suspension situation.

“I can appreciate that even just explaining that as a process – what does that mean and what’s going on?

“What you can take from that is that it’s ‘checks and balances’ and moments where you can appeal and I think that is a very healthy place to be when you are applying a regulatory framework or a legal framework so that the rights of each side are well represented, are heard independently and decisions are made, so it’s a sign of healthy system working well, but it does end up taking time.”

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Benn had hoped to secure a major fight this year after defeating Dobson

Could Benn launch another appeal?

Benn’s provisional suspension is not the end of the matter. It has not yet resulted in an actual sanction or ban. UKAD have yet to determine that. The process is far from complete and Benn still has avenues of appeal, for example via the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), according to the regulations that are transparent and public.

Benn can also argue for a reduction in any ban, if UKAD do indeed impose a ban. There are a number of ways open to any athlete, for example reaching a resolution after assessing an individual’s degree of fault, the seriousness of the violation and how promptly the violation was admitted. An athlete can also argue that the rule violation was not ‘intentional’, but this will require the athlete establishing how the prohibited substance entered their system.

Benn, who has always stated his innocence after the failed drug tests, has fought twice in the USA after the independent National Anti-Doping panel had initially lifted his suspension. His most recent bout was a points victory over Peter Dobson in February.

Benn chose not to make a public statement when approached by Sky Sports.

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