Moscow (AP) — The promoter for Russian heavyweight boxer Alexander Povetkin said Tuesday he wants the title fight against WBC champion Deontay Wilder rescheduled for later this year and that new testing proves Povetkin is clean.
Wilder had been due to fight Povetkin, his mandatory challenger, on May 21 in Moscow before the Russian tested positive for meldonium, causing the WBC to postpone the fight indefinitely for an investigation.
Wilder has since been cleared to make a voluntary defense by the WBC. A statement issued Tuesday by Povetkin’s promoter Andrei Ryabinsky said “the postponed fight should take place by the end of the year.”
That is likely to face opposition from Wilder, who has called for Povetkin to be suspended from boxing. Wilder’s promoter Lou DiBella opposes any talk of rescheduling before a WBC ruling.
Povetkin’s positive test came in late April, and Ryabinsky maintained he tested clean before and after that date. Ryabinsky insists the positive test showed a low concentration of the stamina-boosting drug and was the result of Povetkin taking meldonium last year, before it was banned, after which some remained in his system.
“I want to emphasize that Alexander Povetkin has never taken any prohibited drugs,” Ryabinsky said Tuesday.
Meldonium was long used as a supplement by athletes in Eastern Europe. When it was banned for 2016, more than 100 athletes worldwide tested positive in the following months.
The World Anti-Doping Agency responded by launching an investigation into how long the drug can remain in an athlete’s body, with the aim of finding a way to distinguish between athletes who continued taking meldonium after it was banned and those who had a low concentration left over from consumption last year.
The WADA investigation has yet to report back, but almost all athletes who tested positive have been cleared to compete until the results come in.