Lamont Peterson, who admitted to being implanted with the banned substance synthetic testosterone, will be allowed to keep his IBF junior welterweight title, the New Jersey-based sanctioning body announced Friday.
Peterson, of Washington, D.C., won the IBF and WBA belts in his hometown via controversial split decision from Amir Khan on Dec. 10.
However, less than two weeks before they were scheduled to meet in a multimillion dollar rematch on May 19 in Las Vegas, Peterson tested positive for synthetic testosterone during a random urine test conducted in March by the Las Vegas-based Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).
In a statement, the IBF said its decision to let Peterson keep the title "is based on the findings reported by an independent physician, certified in internal medicine and endocrinology, retained by the IBF to review Peterson's medical records in relation to the information disclosed in the VADA report released this past May."
During the negotiations for the rematch, Peterson had asked Khan to accept random blood and urine testing conducted by VADA, and Khan accepted. Yet it was Peterson who failed a drug test, forcing the fight to be canceled and putting his career in limbo.
The WBA stripped Peterson in July and reinstated Khan as its titleholder, although Khan was then knocked out in the fourth round by Danny Garcia in their July 14 unification bout, which had been set up only because Khan's rematch with Peterson was canceled.
"I'm thankful and I'm thrilled with the IBF's decision," Peterson said in a statement. "I want to thank my manager, Barry Hunter, for all of his support throughout this ordeal. There were a lot of naysayers out there, but Barry and the rest of my team never doubted me. My team fought non-stop to ensure that I was cleared."
Complicating matters with the sanctioning bodies was Peterson's disclosure that he had been implanted with testosterone pellets by a doctor in Las Vegas prior to the December fight with Khan. That meant that he fought that bout with a banned substance in his system. Peterson claimed he used it because of a medical condition.
However, the testosterone did not show up in his drug screen conducted by the Washington, D.C., commission for the December fight with Khan because its tests are less sophisticated than the ones used by VADA.
According to the IBF's statement, its independent doctor was asked "to provide an opinion as to whether the levels of testosterone noted in the VADA report appeared to be consistent with the therapeutic use of the hormone, or for performance-enhancing purposes.
Additionally, the physician was asked whether these levels of testosterone would have enhanced Lamont Peterson's training for, and performance during, the bout on Dec. 10, 2011, and for his training for the bout scheduled for May 19, 2012.
"After concluding the review of all the documentation provided by Peterson's camp and the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the physician determined that the testosterone levels noted in the VADA report are consistent with the therapeutic use of the hormone and not for the purpose of performance enhancement.
"Therefore, these levels would not have enhanced Lamont Peterson's training for or performance during the bout on Dec. 10, 2011, nor for his training for the bout that was scheduled for May 19, 2012, as a specimen collected by VADA on April 13, 2012 tested negative on May 2, 2012."
The IBF also ordered that Peterson (30-1-1, 15 KOs) make his mandatory defense against former titleholder Zab Judah (42-7, 29 KOs), who knocked out Vernon Paris in the ninth round on March 24 in an elimination bout to earn the title opportunity.
"I've known Lamont his whole life and always had faith in him," said Hunter, Peterson's manager, trainer and father figure. "We were certain that when all of the details were reviewed, Lamont would be cleared and allowed to move on with a title defense and his career. We never stopped training. Lamont looks great and we're looking forward to a great fight once we work out the details with Judah and his team."
The Peterson-Judah fight is due to take place by Sept. 10, but because of the time it took to rule on Peterson's status, the IBF ordered the camps to negotiate the bout immediately and said it "is now expected to take place as soon as possible on a date that all parties involved agree upon."
The next meeting of the Nevada State Athletic Commission is Aug. 24, and executive director Keith Kizer said the Peterson camp has asked to be on the agenda, although the agenda has not yet been announced.
Just because the IBF has allowed Peterson to retain his world title does not necessarily mean the Nevada commission, or any other commission, will license him after he admitted to using a banned substance. Peterson did not disclose the usage or seek a therapeutic exemption from Nevada prior to the May fight that was canceled.