Alexander Povetkin tests positive for meldonium, putting title fight in question

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·Combat columnist
Alexander Povetkin tests positive for meldonium, putting title fight in question
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The status of the May 21 heavyweight title fight in Moscow between WBC champion Deontay Wilder and No. 1 contender Alexander Povetkin is up in the air after it was announced Friday that Povetkin had tested positive on April 27 for meldonium.

It is the same drug that five time Grand Slam champion tennis player Maria Sharapova was caught with in her system in January at the Australian Open. Meldonium was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list on Jan. 1.

In March, the New York Times reported that at least 99 athletes had tested positive for meldonium in the first 10 weeks of 2016. Its performance-enhancing benefit is as a booster in cardiovascular conditioning, as it increases red blood cell production which carries oxygen to tissue.

Povetkin's promoter, Andriy Ryabinskiy, said on Twitter that Povetkin admitted to taking the drug in 2015 when it was not on WADA's banned list.

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As of 8 p.m. ET, Povetkin had not requested his B sample to be tested.

The WBC said in a statement that it was looking into the positive test and would have an answer about the status of the fight as soon as possible.

The WBC’s priority is and will always be safety, fair play and justice. In order to continue to strive for the absolute safety of the boxers and for a just and fair outcome for all parties involved, the WBC is conducting an in-depth investigation of this matter.

The testing was conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association as part of the WBC's Clean Boxing Program.