By Mauricio Sulaimán / Son of José Sulaimán / President of the WBC
Last 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 grave 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 various 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 exemplary 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.
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 to investigate and balance the facts to conclude. Premature judgments are mostly based on assumptions.
The World Boxing Council is the only organization with a program that works around the world to combat 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 a 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 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, to monitor his performance in the months to come and educate him and his entire team on the issues of nutrition, hydration, weight management, and prohibited substances, all at a high economic cost to himself.
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.
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 some 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.