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Boxer Garcia suspended 1 year after positive tests

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Published in Breaking News
Thursday, 20 June 2024 18:28

Boxing star Ryan Garcia has been suspended one year after he reached a settlement with the New York State Athletic Commission following his positive tests for the performance-enhancing drug ostarine, the commission told ESPN on Thursday.

The suspension is retroactive to Garcia's April 20 decision victory over Devin Haney, which has been overturned to a no-contest.

Garcia, 25, also forfeited his purse, the commission said. His disclosed purse was $1.2 million, sources said, which is what he will give up, though his guaranteed earnings were millions more. The commission said it also fined Garcia $10,000.

"I want to thank the commission and the fans who stood by me during this whole process," Haney told ESPN during a phone interview Thursday. "The facts are the facts, and I wasn't on an even playing field. Happy I was able to receive justice for what happened. It's all part of my story and it's only going to make me better. I look to enjoy this time with my family and friends and see what's next.

"I'm a clean athlete and boxing is a brutal sport where one fight can literally change your life. I think it important for fighters to be clean and I want to become an advocate for clean athletes for my experience in this situation."

Garcia will be reinstated April 20, 2025, provided his urine test is returned with no banned substances, the commission said. The settlement with the commission to accept punishment means a hearing is avoided.

"It is a harsh result," Haney's attorney, Pat English, told ESPN. "I have never seen a $1.2 million forfeiture or anything remotely close to it."

Haney, 25, was ESPN's No. 6 pound-for-pound boxer when he suffered the major upset defeat to Garcia. Haney was as much as a -900 favorite, per ESPN BET, before he entered the ring at -575 after Garcia was 3.2 pounds overweight for the 140-pound title contest.

Garcia was ineligible to win the WBC junior welterweight title, which Haney maintained, after he missed weight. Haney had never been knocked down in 31 previous pro fights, but was floored in Rounds 7, 10 and 11 en route to the majority decision defeat. But that loss has now been wiped from Haney's record, and he's again 31-0.

"The commission will continue to hold athletes to the highest professional standards and protect the integrity of all sports under our jurisdiction," the commission said in a statement.

Garcia (25-1, 20 KOs) now will be sidelined for at least one year. The Association of Boxing Commissions, which comprises every major athletic commission in the U.S., will honor any suspension from a member of that group.

Garcia's career-long layoff was 15 months after he withdrew from a scheduled July 2021 fight vs. Javier Fortuna to address his mental health and then cancelled a bout later that year vs. Joseph Diaz Jr. following hand surgery.

"Ryan, with his legal team, has resolved this issue and firmly maintains his truth: he never intentionally took any banned substance," Team Garcia said in a statement provided to ESPN. "It's simply not in his nature. ... The fans will always remember his performance against Haney as a masterclass, and that will never be erased."

Garcia, one of the sport's top attractions, last scored an official victory in December when he knocked out Oscar Duarte in Round 8. Prior to that, he suffered his lone career defeat in April 2023, when he was stopped in Round 7 by Gervonta Davis in a fight that generated more than 1 million pay-per-view buys.

Ostarine is a selective androgen receptor modulator that attaches to proteins in the body and, in effect, tells muscles to grow. It can be used to aid performance by helping athletes build muscle mass and enhance their rate of fat loss and also to increase stamina and recovery ability. It has been on the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list since 2008, and in 2022 was listed as an anabolic agent by WADA.

Ostarine has been used in boxing before. Lucian Bute tested positive for it in 2016 following a draw with Badou Jack in their WBC super middleweight title fight. The result was changed to a DQ win for Jack.

Amir Khan was handed a two-year ban by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) after he tested positive for ostarine following his sixth-round TKO loss to Kell Brook in 2022.

"I'm innocent," Garcia posted on X. "I stand by that, I don't care what everyone says. Gun to my head I say I didn't take PEDs."

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