Antonio Tarver tests positive
Cruiserweight contender Antonio Tarver tested positive for the anabolic steroid drostanolone in a pre-fight urine test conducted by the California State Athletic Commission for his June 2 fight with Lateef Kayode, Steve Feder, Kayode's manager, told ESPN.com on Friday.
Tarver, the former light heavyweight world champion, fought Kayode to a 12-round draw at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., in a the main event of a Showtime-televised quadrupleheader.
"That is correct. Mr. Tarver tested positive for a banned substance," George Dodd, the executive officer of the California commission, told ESPN.com.
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Dodd said the commission has suspended Tarver -- who earned $1 million for the fight -- and fined him $2,500.
Feder said Che Guevara, the chief inspector for the California commission, called him on Wednesday to tell him that Kayode's test was clean but that Tarver's was not.
"We had a brief conversation and he said that the commission had gotten back the drug test results and that Tarver's was dirty," Feder said. "I didn't know the substance at the time and they were notifying the people they had to notify, so I felt like I had to give the commission time to do their job and that I wouldn't say anything until I got the confirmation of the drug."
That happened Friday, Feder said, when Guevara texted him with the particulars.
Tarver did not return a telephone message but released a statement on Friday night.
"Today's news of a false positive caught me, as well as my family and supporters by surprise. I apologize for the embarrassment it caused," Tarver said in the statement. "I'll appeal and submit to the California commission everything that I've consumed prior to June 2 that could of caused this honest mistake.
"I have always been a proponent of a clean sport and an advocate for the most rigorous drug testing in boxing. ... I am confident that my fans will see that I was not at any time attempting to gain an unfair or illegal advantage in my performance."
Dodd said Tarver and Kayode both gave samples the day before the fight that were tested for steroids. They both also gave second samples after the fight the next night which were tested for drugs of abuse, such as cocaine and marijuana.
Dodd said Tarver's positive test came from the "A" sample.
"Mr. Tarver has the right to appeal the suspension and view the opening of the 'B' sample and the analyzing of the 'B' sample," Dodd said.
Dodd said "B" samples are not tested unless the offender asks for it to be analyzed.
"We don't need the 'B' sample for confirmation, so he has the right to appeal if he wants that one analyzed," Dodd said.
Tarver is the third high profile boxer to test positive in the past two months. Junior welterweight titlist Lamont Peterson tested positive for synthetic testosterone during a random pre-fight urine test, causing his May 19 rematch against former titleholder Amir Khan in Las Vegas to be canceled.
Also, Andre Berto tested positive for the steroid norandrosterone last month, forcing his rematch against fellow former welterweight titlist Victor Ortiz, which was scheduled for Saturday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, to be canceled. The card is going ahead with Ortiz facing substitute opponent Josesito Lopez.
Tarver was scheduled to work the card as a Showtime analyst, but the network benched him for the telecast -- the main event which was happening only because of Berto's failed steroid test -- on Friday night because of the positive test.
"We were made aware of the California State Athletic Commission's report regarding Antonio Tarver's positive drug test following his last fight on June 2 this afternoon," Showtime spokesman Chris DeBlasio said in a statement. "Out of respect for the fighters competing on Saturday night, Antonio and the network have mutually agreed that he will not serve as color analyst for the June 23rd boxing telecast."
The 43-year-old Tarver (29-6-1, 20 KOs) appeared to give away most of the rounds in the first half of the fight, but he came on strong in the second half to pull out a 12-round split draw. One judge had the fight for Tarver, 115-113, another had it 115-113 for Kayode and the third judge had it, 114-114.
Feder, who said he has been a fan of Tarver's for years, spent some friendly time with him the week after the fight when they were both at the International Boxing Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in Canastota, N.Y.
"We were taking pictures together and having a good time and then I get this news. It's crazy," Feder said. "Why would a guy do this? Why would he tarnish a stellar career? I've been a fan of his. And he has this great job with Showtime (as an analyst). I have to say I shake my head and say, 'Why would he jeopardize this?'
"I want to believe somebody influenced Tarver to do this and that he would know better because I don't want to believe he would initiate this. It's still his fault though and he has to take the blame for it, but I actually feel bad for him. I feel bad for my fighter as well."
If the test result holds up, the California commission likely would change the result of the bout to a no decision.
Feder said that Kayode (18-0-1, 14 KOs), a 29-year-old from Nigeria who lives and trains in Los Angeles, was shocked when he told him about the positive test.
"I told Lateef and he said, 'Oh, man, I can't believe it.' He was shocked and then he started thinking, 'I wonder if that's how he came on late like he did? Maybe that's what the drug was and he was able to come on late.' Lateef said maybe it started to kick in because he said he didn't really feel anything on Tarver's punches earlier in the fight and then he really started to come on. He had this energy or something. Maybe that was the steroid?"
The fight had come about because Tarver, in his role as a Showtime analyst, was critical of Kayode's performance on some fights of his that he called. Kayode did not appreciate the remarks and called Tarver out.
Tarver, a 1996 Olympic bronze medalist and one of the most decorated amateurs in United States history, is best known for beating Roy Jones Jr. in their second and third fights, including a stunning second-round knockout to win the light heavyweight championship in May 2004.
In his cruiserweight debut in July 2011, Tarver traveled to Australia and pulled a mild upset by stopping Australian hero Danny Green in the ninth round, a victory that helped set him up for the fight with Kayode.