By Mauricio Sulaimán / Son of José Sulaimán / President of the WBC
Las week was one of the most difficult ones since I have led the organization I proudly chair: the World Boxing Council (WBC).
The easy and utterly mistaken option would be to describe it as “a week to forget“. That would be a very serious mistake. Forgetting important events, especially challenging ones, is something that should never happen. We must always remember what happened, to serve as teaching and inspiration to continue moving forward, seeking to improve things and, in our case, on how to make boxing safer and fairer for athletes.
Jeanette Zacarías, an 18-year-old girl, traveled to Montreal, Canada, and lost her life after a six-round fight. Her opponent is a 31-year-old rookie with just three fights, who is a physical therapist and took on boxing just as a hobby.
This tragedy, this accident in the ring, has shaken boxing, sports, and society. It has been revealed that she obtained medical clearance, after successfully passing the rigorous examinations; It was a 6 rounder and the fight was not brutal and the attention of the local commission was timely and exemplary … What happened? This is what must be determined as the specific facts are investigated.
Jeannette was knocked out in Reynosa in May and was suspended for 90 days. There is an immediate line of action that the boxing industry must address at a global level. Change suspension reports and monitor anyone who suffered a major knockout. Suspensions are intended to indicate a period of time in which the fighter must not have contact in the ring, meaning NO Sparring and light training , however it is world practice to fix that date as the cut-off date for the next fight. So, 1-day after the suspension date the fighter is deemed eligible to get in the ring and fight.
The WBC has been in contact with Jeanette’s father and family, and we are ready to support them in a variety of ways during and after this sad situation. The world boxing community has come together so that Jeanette receives a worthy and holy farewell as soon as the Canadian authorities have concluded the process and proceed with transporting her to her hometown.
The promoter Yvon Michel has taken care of everything in an exemplary way and will be traveling to Aguascalientes to meet with the young woman’s family. Our support and admiration go to Yvon Michel and all the members of GYM as well as to Marie Pier Houle who has absolutely no fault in this tragic incident.
This same week , an adverse analytical finding of an out-of-competition test of our super featherweight champion Óscar Valdez was announced.
Very unfortunately , many fans, many members of the boxing community with vested interests, and some media outlets and individuals reacted immediately, without even understanding what had happened. “Positive Test!” “Guilty!” “Crucify the cheater”; the desire to see punishment is what moves today’s society, scandal, cheating, fraud, and tragedies. There is no will investigate and balance the facts in order to arrive at a final conclusion. The premature judgments are mostly based in assumptions.
The World Boxing Council is the only organization that has a program that works around the world to combat the use of prohibited substances. The WBC has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars, and has endured significant problems, especially when positive tests have come out during the six years of operation of the Clean Boxing Program.
The program was designed and implemented with an expert agency, VADA, which administers it and is responsible for establishing the list of prohibited substances, which athletes will be subjected to random tests through collection of samples without notice, as well as sending them to the laboratory plus promptly reporting the results.
From there, when there is an adverse result, the administration of our organization enters to manage the protocol to be followed, and it is the WBC who is in charge of results management and imposing the corresponding actions and penalties.
A series of actions were carried out to be able to study, analyze and understand all the aspects. Hearings were held with various parties involved and in the end a resolution was given.
Óscar Valdez continues as the defending champion. The fight on September 10 will be for the world championship. He will be subject to an important series of actions related to what happened, with the aim of monitoring his performance in the months to come and educating him and his entire team on the issues of nutrition, hydration, weight management and prohibited substances; all at a significant economic cost to himself.
In order to issue the final resolution, important considerations were carefully assessed: the type of substance and its properties; It is a medicine that suppresses the appetite and does not give any competitive advantage. The levels of the substance, which were 77 nanograms per milliliter, while the allowed limit is 50. The test was taken a month before the fight and the next test, taken on August 30, came back negative.
The history of Valdez, as a two Olympic Games and as professional has had more than 30 tests without ever having a doping problem; In addition, he is widely recognized by all members of the boxing community, pointing to him as a hardworking, clean, dedicated young nan with an impeccable record.
It is a real shame that there are those who do not have the slightest intention of studying and understanding what happened; They are not interested in seeing that it was a transparent and consistent process to the regulation, and they only choose to have their own opinion, their own conclusion, and thus express it publicly, hurting the image of a young person, as well as the integrity of the sport and the WBC.
I am convinced that time will prove a lot about this sad episode, but it will also help to improve some of the things about how the Clean Boxing Program is managed.
DID YOU KNOW…?
The WBC was the first world organization in any professional sport to impose mandatory drug testing after every world championship fight.
Likewise, we have worked tirelessly, since 1975, on this issue and Fair Play. We created the Clean Boxing Program, in 2015, and we became the world leader in boxing by administering an inclusive anti-doping program.
My dad had a deep passion for the issue of doping, so he always fought to create programs around the world and he seek to get the support of boxing commissions to join the struggle against this issue and dangerous practices.
“My son, boxers are noble and kind, boxers are incapable of wishing to cause harm to their opponent ; sometimes they are deceived by other people and almost always it happens without them knowing it. There is also contamination in products. We must seek protection and health of the fighters, but also help them learn and always try to maintain justice above all. ” This was what Don José told me while attending a medical congress held in Cancun, where Dr. Catlin, from UCLA, presented his final report, which was the model for what is now known today as the WBC Clean Boxing Program.
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