Heavyweight contender Lucas Browne, due to fight for a vacant world title, has failed his second random drug test of the year, likely killing his chances to fight for the belt and putting his career in jeopardy.
In a recent test conducted in Browne's native Australia by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association as part of the WBC's Clean Boxing Program, Browne's A sample came back positive for the banned substance ostarine (also called enobosarm), which is supposed to increase stamina and recovery ability.
It is the same substance that former super middleweight titleholder Lucian Bute tested positive for following his controversial draw with world titleholder Badou Jack on April 30. Ostarine has been on the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list since 2008.
"We have been notified by VADA about Browne's adverse finding as he was tested under the CBP," WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman told ESPN on Monday night. "He has been notified, and the process is being attended as per the protocol."
Browne has not commented on the failed test. Manager Matt Clark declined to comment to ESPN and referred any questions to Browne's attorney Leon Margules, who did not return messages seeking comment.
In July, Browne voluntarily enrolled in the WBC's new Clean Boxing Program -- under which fighters are subject to random tests at any time throughout the year whether they have a fight scheduled or not -- to show he was committed to boxing as a clean fighter. Browne was trying to distance himself from a positive test for the banned substance clenbuterol.
On March 5, Browne rallied for a 10th-round knockout of Ruslan Chagaev in Grozny, Russia, to win the WBA's secondary world title, making him the first Australian to win a heavyweight title.
However, Browne's A and B samples both tested positive for clenbuterol after the fight, and he was suspended for six months by the WBA and stripped of the belt, which was returned to Chagaev. The title became vacant in July, when Chagaev was stripped for his failure to pay delinquent sanctioning fees to the WBA.
All along, Browne maintained he did not take clenbuterol. He and his team said they believed Browne's food or water was spiked while he was in hostile territory for the fight against Chagaev. Browne appealed the positive test result to the WBA, which eventually ruled that he had not knowingly taken the banned substance and gave him the opportunity to fight for its secondary title again.
At the time of his enrollment in the WBC's Clean Boxing Program, Browne said, "By voluntarily enrolling in this program, I am able to be randomly (blood or urine) tested at any time, 365 days of the year.
"I have absolutely no issues with this, as I am a clean athlete and I believe boxing needs this kind of regulation. I welcome this aspect of safety for the sport of boxing. I despise all drugs, whether they be performance-enhancing or recreational.
"Having always been a clean athlete, I am totally opposed to any form of doping. I've always felt that cheaters in professional boxing should be banned for life. With 21 KOs in my 24 victories, I'm of the same opinion as (heavyweight titleholder) Deontay Wilder -- if I was ever to use PEDs, I might end up killing someone."
The 37-year-old Browne (24-0, 21) was due to face Shannon Briggs (60-6-1, 53 KOs), 44, a former two-time world titleholder from Brooklyn, New York, for the WBA's vacant secondary title, although the date and location of the bout had not yet been set. However, the WBA ordered last month that the fight must take place by Dec. 31 with the winner obligated to face mandatory challenger Fres Oquendo, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, within 120 days of the bout. Browne is just the latest heavyweight contender to fail a random drug test conducted by VADA this year.
• Former world titleholder Alexander Povetkin tested positive for the banned substance meldonium, which caused his mandatory shot to be canceled against WBC titleholder Deontay Wilder in May. The WBC ultimately elected not to punish Povetkin because the amount of the substance in his system was far below the threshold accepted by WADA in an updated notice on the drug published in June.
• A sample given by former world titlist Bermane Stiverne on Nov. 11 as part of the WBC's Clean Boxing Program was positive for the banned substance methylhexaneamine, a stimulant also known as dimethyamylamine or DMAA. However, Stiverne will be allowed to go through with his fight against Povetkin for the WBC's vacant interim title on Dec. 17 in Moscow. The WBC said in its report on Stiverne's positive test that it will sanction the bout for the interim title because Stiverne has never had a positive test in the past and that "there is no evidence that Stiverne intentionally or even knowingly ingested a banned substance with the purpose of enhancing his performance in any fashion. Stiverne's ingestion of DMAA was purely accidental."
• Lineal heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury failed two tests for cocaine in late September, part of the reason his September rematch with former champion Wladimir Klitschko was canceled. Fury's drug, alcohol and mental health problems prompted him to vacate his various title belts.