Following up on Luis Ortiz, the WBC, and VADA

The World Boxing Council took another step forward today (Wednesday, Oct. 4) when WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman announced that the organization had withdrawn its sanction of the scheduled November 4 heavyweight championship fight between Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz.

The WBC’s action came in the aftermath of a positive test result on a urine sample taken from Ortiz during a random drug test conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) on September 22. Ortiz’s “A” sample tested positive for chlorothiazide and hydrochlorothiazide, banned diuretics that are sometimes used to treat high blood pressure but are also used to mask performance enhancing drugs.

The test was administered by VADA as part of the WBC Clean Boxing Program.

Ortiz had previously tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid nandrolone after a 2014 fight in Nevada against Lateef Kayode and was suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for eight months. He also pulled out of a fight against Derric Rossy scheduled for April 14 of this year in New York when the New York State Athletic Commission instructed that he make himself available for a random drug test.

The Ortiz camp claims that Ortiz took the banned diuretics to combat high blood pressure. On October 2, it issued a press release headlined “Breaking News” followed by the legend, “Victor Conte Reveals the Truth on Luis Ortiz Positive Test.”

The release then referenced a video posted by Conte on YouTube and stated, “Sports scientist Victor Conte reveals in detail why he believes undefeated heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz is innocent in regards to his recent positive drug test. An expert in the field of scientific nutrition, Conte feels Ortiz was negligent in [not] declaring his blood pressure medicine but also believes there is no evidence of intent to cheat. Conte’s position is that the WBC heavyweight championship fight between Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz, should move forward without delay.”

“Unless you have strong evidence of intent to cheat,” the release quoted Conte as saying, “then you don’t have a case. Let the fight go on.”

Thereafter, Conte told this writer that Mario Serrano (Ortiz’s publicist) had sent him the VADA letter and lab reports for review but that he was not paid for his work. “I don’t know all the answers,” Conte told The Sweet Science. “I just want to make sure we ask the right questions.” In a later exchange, Conte clarified that he made the video at the request of a third party, not Serrano.

Conte also acknowledged to this writer that, at the time he made the video, he was unaware that the doctor who the Ortiz camp claims wrote the prescription for the banned diuretics has a checkered past.

Richard Allen Hill is a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, physician. A June 27, 2005, press release issued by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida reveals that Dr. Hill was sentenced to 21 months in prison for financial misconduct related to the wholesale distribution of prescription drugs.

Moreover, in 2016, the Palm Beach Post reported that at least six women had complained to the authorities that Hill sexually molested them during medical examinations. As part of a plea deal, Hill pled “no contest” to five misdemeanor battery charges.

After Wilder-Ortiz was placed in jeopardy, Wilder called Ortiz a “f****** liar . . . a mother******,” and just about everything else he could think of. Then Deontay indicated that he was not necessarily adverse to the fight going forward as planned.

On October 3, Sulaiman addressed Wilder’s desire to proceed with the fight and declared, “That’s a fighter. A fighter has a heart and a desire. But there’s no compromising safety. If it is not safe for him, if it is not safe for Ortiz, we will never be part of something like that.”

This afternoon, the WBC took the next step in the adjudicative process when Sulaiman announced, “The WBC has concluded the process according to its Clean Boxing Program protocol in the adverse finding of Luis Ortiz. An official ruling has been sent to the corresponding parties. The WBC has withdrawn its sanction of the Deontay Wilder vs. Ortiz fight, and Wilder will fight next his mandatory fight against Bermane Stiverne.”

Stiverne had previously agreed to accept step aside money to allow Wilder-Ortiz to proceed and was slated to fight Dominic Breazeale on the Wilder-Ortiz undercard. Expect headaches to be part of the Wilder-Stiverne negotiations.

Meanwhile, as of this writing, Ortiz is still the mandatory challenger for Anthony Joshua’s World Boxing Association title. It remains to be seen whether recent events will affect this status.

Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at thauser@rcn.com. His next book – There Will Always Be Boxing  – will be published by the University of Arkansas Press this autumn. In 2004, the Boxing Writers Association of America honored Hauser with the Nat Fleischer Award for career excellence in boxing journalism.

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