Tyson Fury set to be stripped of WBO title over ‘inactivity’ and drug claims


Tyson Fury is likely to lose one of his two remaining world heavyweight titles before the end of the month after the president of the World Boxing Organisation confirmed it will discuss the troubled fighter’s status as its champion at a meeting on 17 October.

Officials from the WBO will gather for their annual convention in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Paco Valcárcel told the Guardian a decision relating to Fury will be finalised at the four-day meeting.

Fury faces being stripped of his WBO belt, which he secured alongside the IBF and WBA versions by beating Wladimir Klitschko in Düsseldorf last November, given the discussions in Puerto Rico will focus on his absence from the ring since his shock victory 11 months ago and allegations he tested positive for cocaine in September. Fury hardly helped his cause by claiming he had taken “lots of” the class A drug in order to deal with a bipolar disorder in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine published this week.

“We will be writing to Tyson Fury before the convention asking him to explain his inactivity as well as his comments regarding drug taking,” Valcárcel said. “It is possible he has gone against WBO rules and guidelines in a way that would not allow him to continue as champion.”

The news comes as the British Boxing Board of Control confirmed it will decide next week whether or not to withdraw Fury’s licence, partly in light of his remarks to Rolling Stone, in which he reiterated his belief he was the victim of a “witch hunt” and claimed “personal demons” had driven him to “the brink of death”.

“We have a meeting on 12 October. All of Mr Fury’s recent issues will be discussed at that point, after which we’ll see what we’re going to do,” said the BBBC general secretary, Robert Smith. “There are a number of issues with Mr Fury that need to be considered, that have been well-publicised.”

Speaking in regards to the alleged failed drugs test, which according to ESPN came from a urine sample Fury gave to the Las Vegas-based Voluntary Anti-Doping Association on 22 September, Smith said: “Cocaine is against the law of the land. We can’t ignore the law of the land. It’s drug use and we will deal with it accordingly.”

Ricky Hatton was stripped of his licence amid allegations of cocaine use, as well as for a lack of activity in the ring, six years ago and the former IBF light welterweight champion is among a number of past and present fighters who have offered their support to Fury. “I’ve sent a text to Tyson asking him to give me a ring if he needs me,” the 37-year-old told the Manchester Evening News. “I’ve had some bad moments like what I’m hearing about him, so I want to make sure he’s OK.” Speaking to TalkSport, the WBC cruiserweight champion, Tony Bellew, said: “He [Fury] is at fault but he’s not well and I wish the country would get behind him.”

Fury was stripped of his IBF title in December after agreeing to a rematch with Klitschko instead of facing the mandatory challenger Vyacheslav Glazkov. The 28-year-old then pulled out of facing Klitschko last month after his camp claimed he was “medically unfit” to take on the Ukrainian as scheduled on 29 October.

The WBA are also considering whether of not to strip Fury of their version of the heavyweight title but when contacted by the Guardian could not confirm when that decision will be made.

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