Tyson Fury, the 28-year-old English heavyweight who shocked the boxing world last November when he upset champion Wladimir Klitschko and claimed all four of Klitschko’s championship belts for himself, may now lose those belts, a report Friday from Dan Rafael of ESPN.com says.
“[Fury] was notified that he failed a VADA-conducted test for cocaine in a random urine sample collected on Sept. 22, multiple sources with knowledge of the test results,” Rafael reported. “The results of VADA’s testing for performance enhancing drugs are not yet complete, but the positive cocaine test likely will result in Fury being stripped of his world title belts.”
VADA is the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, “an independent organization founded to offer and promote effective anti-doping programs in boxing and mixed martial arts,” according to its web site.
1. Fury Was Notified of the Failed Test on Thursday
The letter to Fury from the Las Vegas-based VADA — which was overseeing testing for a Fury-Klitschko rematch with the agreement of both fighters — went out on Thursday night, September 29, according to ESPN.com.
The letter said that a urine sample taken at random from Fury on September 22 has revealed traces of benzoylecgonine, a substance generated by the liver when metabolizing cocaine. Drug screenings consider the presence of benzoylecgonine evidence that a person has recently ingested cocaine.
As a result, Fury is likely to be stripped of his four belts, raising the possibility that four of the five heavyweight boxing championships will become vacant and the division will be thrown into chaos.
2. Fury Earlier Pulled Out Of His Rematch With Klitschko
Fury was scheduled to defend his heavyweight championship against Klitschko on October 29, but on September 23, one day after the reportedly failed drug test, Fury withdrew from the match citing “mental health issues.” The outspoken, six-foot-nine-inch Manchester native has earlier spoken about his battle with depression, even admitting that he has used cocaine and other drugs to self-medicate.
“It’s either high or low. I’m either off my head on cocaine or down on the floor from a tranquilizer injection,” Fury said in an April interview, according to The Manchester Evening News. “Most of the time, I’m just down and depressed like today, because for every high there’s a low.”
The Fury vs. Klitschko rematch was first scheduled for July 9, but Fury pulled out of that date, blaming an injury to his ankle.
3. Fury Won 4 of the 5 Heavyweight Belts From Klitschko
In a sport where championships are divided among a wide variety of “alphabet” sanctioning bodies, by defeating Klitschko, Fury became almost, but not quite, the single, unified world heavyweight champion of boxing. After the win, the Englishman became recognized as legitimate champ by the World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF), World Boxing Organization (WBO) and International Boxing Organization (IBO).
But he still cannot claim to be only the second English heavyweight to hold the unified title since 1899. The World Boxing Council (WBC) belt — often considered the most prestigious of all of the “alphabet” titles — belongs to 30-year-old American Deontay Wilder, who blasted Fury on social media after Fury withdrew from the Klitschko rematch a second time, as seen in the above Twitter posting from Wilder.
Lennox Lewis remains the only British fighter to hold the unified heavyweight boxing championship since Bob Fitzsimmons in 1899. But Lewis was born in Jamaica and was raised largely in Canada, spending only the early stages of his childhood in Britain.
4. Fury Previously Suspected Someone Tried to Drug Him
Following his unanimous decision win over Klitschko last November 28, despite having just boxed through a hard-fought 12 rounds, Fury refused to refresh himself by drinking water in his dressing room when he returned there after leaving the ring victorious.
“After the fight, I had it from good sources not to touch anything in the changing room because they might try to drug me,” The Daily Mail quoted Fury as saying at the time. “People were trying to pass me all sorts of things but unless it came from my own baggage, I wasn’t having it, there was no chance of me getting drugged. I went home dehydrated before I even touched anything because I was so frightened of being tested and failing the test because they’ve given me something. You can never be too careful.”
5. Fury Has Caused Controversy With Anti-Gay and Anti-Semitic Remarks
Raising further doubts about his mental health, a video surfaced earlier this year in which Fury is heard making derogatory remarks about LGBT people, and claiming that “Jewish people… own all the banks, all the papers, all the TV stations.”
“Draconian, living in ancient times where we don’t like women to be whores opening their legs for every Tom, Dick and Harry, we don’t shag men, we don’t shag kids, if that’s draconian then I suppose I like being a draconian. They should call me Tyson ‘Dracula’ Fury because I’m still living in those times,” Fury said in the interview. “I think it’ll be perfectly normal in the next 10 years to have sexual relationships with your animals at home —you know, your pets, your cats and dogs, and all that will be legal.”
Fury later denied the accusation that he was prejudiced against LGBT people, as seen in the video above.