By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) – British heavyweight Tyson Fury has had his boxing license suspended, hours after he announced he was relinquishing his two world titles to focus on his mental health.
Robert Smith, general secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC) that oversees professional boxing in Britain, told Reuters the decision was made pending investigation of anti-doping and medical issues.
Fury revealed the turmoil in his private life last week when he told Rolling Stone magazine that he had been taking cocaine and bingeing on alcohol as a consequence of depression.
The 28-year-old WBO and WBA champion has not fought since beating Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko to win the titles in November 2015, and he announced on Wednesday that his 11-month reign was over.
“I won the titles in the ring and I believe that they should be lost in the ring, but I’m unable to defend at this time and I have taken the hard and emotional decision to now officially vacate my treasured world titles,” Fury said in statement released by his promoter Mick Hennessy.
“(I) wish the next in-line contenders all the very best as I now enter another big challenge in my life which I know, like against Klitschko, I will conquer.”
Tyson’s points victory over Klitschko in Duesseldorf, Germany, was one of the biggest upsets in the long history of heavyweight boxing.
It was a first defeat for Klitschko in 11 years and the now 40-year-old Ukrainian, who has accused Fury of “dragging boxing through the mud”, immediately demanded a re-match.
Fury called off a fight against Klitschko in July because of an ankle injury and again last month for an unspecified medical condition.
ESPN reported at the start of October that Fury had tested positive for cocaine, citing a leaked letter sent by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) which Reuters has been unable to verify.
A couple of days later, Fury announced his retirement in an expletive-laden tweet, only to abruptly reverse the decision.
He told Rolling Stone that he had never taken banned substances before he fought and his cocaine use started only after he beat Klitschko.
Fury has also been charged with a rule violation by UK Anti-Doping after a urine sample from February 2015 showed traces of the banned stimulant nandrolone. He denies any wrongdoing.
Peter Fury, the boxer’s uncle and trainer, told the BBC that his nephew would be back.
“Once he produces all of his records of what he’s been through then I don’t think the boxing board will have any option but to give him his license back,” he said.
“This is a guy that’s needed medical treatment, so once the powers that be say he’s fit to box then there’s no reason why he can’t be reinstated. He’s at the pinnacle of his career.”
(Additional reporting and writing by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Greg Stutchbury and Pritha Sarkar)