Heavyweight titleholder Lucas Browne on Tuesday denied that he used the banned steroid Clenbuterol, which he tested positive for following his 10th-round knockout of Ruslan Chagaev to win a secondary belt on March 5 in Grozny, Russia.
"I would like to assure all my fans, the whole of the boxing world and all of Australia that I am not a drug user or a drug cheat," Browne said in a statement. "The news of this positive test has shocked and devastated me, and I will be fighting for as long as it takes to clear my name."
Browne (24-0, 21 KOs), 36, became the first Australian to win a heavyweight title when he rallied from a hard sixth-round knockdown to upset Chagaev, a 37-year-old southpaw from Uzbekistan.
On Monday, ESPN reported that Browne failed his post-fight urine test, which was conducted by the Las Vegas-based Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, which had been retained to handle testing for the fight.
"Prior to (Tuesday) I had not heard of the drug Clenbuterol and had no idea what it was used for," Browne said. "I am now aware that it is essentially a weight-stripping drug, and as a heavyweight boxer the idea of me using it is utterly ridiculous. I am a staunch long-time opponent of any drug use, performance-enhancing or otherwise."
Browne also intimated that his food or beverages may have been spiked during his stay in Grozny.
"My team and I were well aware of the many risks involved in going to a place like Chechnya to fight a reigning champion, and believed we had taken sufficient precautions," Browne said. "In addition, it was at our insistence that VADA testing was implemented for the fight. I will be in a position to release more details and make further comment in coming days. Thank you."
Browne is promoted by former two-division titleholder Ricky Hatton's Hatton Promotions, which also issued a statement.
"Ricky Hatton and Hatton Promotions Ltd. were made aware late (Monday) night that Lucas Browne delivered a positive A sample drug test following his world title win over Ruslan Chagaev," Hatton Promotions said. "We believe strongly that boxing should be free from performance-enhancing drugs. However, we believe Lucas Browne to be a clean athlete who arrived in Chechnya a clean athlete. We are therefore conducting our own further investigations and cannot comment further at this time."
Browne has the options to ask for his B sample to be tested at his own cost. If he declines, or if that sample is tested and also comes back positive -- which is typically the case -- he would be stripped of the title and the win would be erased and become a no decision. He would also face a possible suspension and fine.