Avni Yildirim cleared for David Benavidez bout after WBC drug test ruling

Super middleweight contender Avni Yildirim is off the hook for his positive drug test for two banned substances and has been reinstated as the mandatory challenger for world titleholder David Benavidez, the WBC announced.

Yildirim tested positive for two performance-enhancing drugs in samples collected by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association on Sept. 13 at his training camp in Big Bear Lake, California, in connection with a random test conducted under the WBC Clean Boxing Program. His A sample was positive for the banned steroids DHCMT and methylclostebol.

But the WBC said that it has closed its case concerning Yildirim's adverse finding after doing an investigation into the incident in a process that "included a thorough scientific investigation and evaluation, with the participation of independent experts."

"That investigation and subsequent evaluation concluded that Mr. Yildirim did not ingest or became exposed to a banned substance knowledgeably or with a performance enhancement intention," the WBC said in a statement. "Instead, Mr. Yildirim unintentionally and inadvertently became exposed to a substance as part of a muscular inflammation therapy he received in Germany which was fully confirmed during the investigation. Credible evidence was presented that the source of the banned substance was a specific contaminated product that was administered to Mr. Yildirim."

The WBC said that it has entered into an adjudication agreement with Yildirim that includes "a strict, long-term testing program, a fine, participation in a CBP awareness program and controls concerning any substance to which Mr. Yildirim might be exposed in the future. Accordingly, the WBC hereby confirms that Mr. Yildirim will be allowed to participate in the mandatory bout for the WBC super middleweight championship against WBC world champion David Benavidez."

The amount of the fine was not disclosed.

Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs), 28, of Turkey, likely will face Benavidez in the mandatory title fight in early 2020.

Benavidez (22-0, 19 KOs), 22, of Phoenix, stopped Anthony Dirrell in the ninth round on Sept. 28 in Los Angeles on the Errol Spence Jr.-Shawn Porter undercard to regain the 168-pound belt he had previously held but had been stripped of for testing positive for cocaine in a random test.

Yildirim lost a disputed 10-round technical split decision to Dirrell for the vacant title on Feb. 23 in Minneapolis when Dirrell suffered a bad cut from an accidental head butt and was unable to continue. Yildirim sought an immediate rematch, but the WBC allowed Dirrell to meet Benavidez first.