Billy Joe Saunders Vacates 160-Pound Title After Failed PED Test

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistOctober 11, 2018

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: Billy Joe Saunders defeats Willie Munroe Jr for the WBO World Middleweight Title fight at Copper Box Arena on September 16, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Leigh Dawney/Getty Images)
Leigh Dawney/Getty Images

Billy Joe Saunders has vacated the WBO middleweight championship after failing a performance-enhancing drug test.

Per ESPN.com's Dan RafaelWBO president Francisco Valcarcel announced Saunders voluntarily vacated his title after the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission rejected his application for a boxing license: 

"B.J. Saunders has voluntarily vacated the WBO middleweight title, and publicly apologized for his violation of the Massachusetts Athletic Commission's anti-doping regulations. Therefore, the clash between Demetrius Andrade and Walter Kautondonkwa scheduled for Oct. 20 will now be for the vacant world crown.

"Also, I will recommend to the WBO executive committee that Saunders receives a six-month suspension for his transgression. But he has to do more. He has to work with the kids there [in England] at the boys' club, do community service, and then he has to be tested randomly and be negative all of the time. He needs a recommendation from the British Boxing Board of Control [to have the suspension lifted], and if he does all that we are willing to put him back in the rankings after his suspension."

Rafael reported last month Saunders was informed by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association's Dr. Margaret Goodman that he tested positive for the stimulant oxilofrine. 

Frank Warren, Saunders' promoter, said in a statement to World Boxing News that the failed test was the result of "a common decongestant nasal spray" and was "in line with the regulations of the World Anti-Doping Agency."

Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) hasn't fought since a unanimous decision win over David Lemieux in December 2017. The 29-year-old was scheduled to defend the WBO middleweight title against Demetrius Andrade on Oct. 20.