Last week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a decision issued last year over the failed Deontay Wider vs. Alexander Povetkin WBC heavyweight title fight. Even though Povetkin tested positive for a banned performance enhancing substance prior to his planned 2016 WBC title challenge against Wilder, the court ruled that Wilder is NOT entitled to receive the $4,369,000 purse he was scheduled to be paid for the fight. The fight never occurred but Wilder's purse was held in an escrow account pending a legal ruling. The court has now ruled that Povetkin’s promoter, World of Boxing (WOB) is entitled to keep the $4,369,000 that was supposed to be Wilder's purse. "We see no reason why WOB should not be entitled to return of the funds held in escrow." The Second Circuit also ruled that WOB could not collect any additional money from Wilder for failing to reschedule the fight after Povetkin tested positive. Despite the loss of its counterclaims, this decision is a win for WOB.
In reaching this decision, the key was a prior ruling issued by the WBC in August 2017. The contract between Wilder and WOB read that the WBC could drop its sanction of the fight and “perform any and all decisions... and actions relating to” it at any time. The WBC took a very weak stance against Povetkin's cheating and let his promoter off the hook, to the detriment of Wilder.
Povetkin tested clean on April 7th, 8th and 11th of 2016 but a urine sample provided by him on April 27, 2016 tested positive for the banned substance meldonium. [Povetkin subsequently tested positive for a different banned substance, but that was not at issue in this lawsuit].
At the time, meldonium was newly banned, as it was legal in Russia, where Povetkin lives, through December 31, 2015. The WBC decided in 2017, despite the dirty test result, that Povetkin did not violate the WBC's Clean Boxing Program. The WBC wrote in 2017, “it is not possible to ascertain that Mr. Povetkin ingested meldonium after January 1, 2016.”
The January 1, 2016 date is significant. According to the New York Times, the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) did not ban meldonium until January 1, 2016. The drug had been legal and widely used in Russia for decades, so it makes sense not to punish uses of meldonium from December 2015 or earlier because it was legal at the time.
HoweverR, the WBC's ruling is illogical and/or corrupt because it ignores the three tests from earlier in April 2016 that showed no meldonium in Povetkin's system. It seems logical that the positive test result was caused by Povetkin ingesting meldonium between April 11 and April 27, 2016, not prior to January 1, 2016.
The court found the WBC's determination of no violation meant WOB, not Wilder, was entitled to keep Wilder's $4.3 million purse because the contract between Wilder and WOB specified that the WBC had initial decision-making power over future disputes.
The court decided the WBC’s ruling was conclusive on the issue of who was entitled to the escrow funds, stating, “To conclude otherwise would require this Court to determine that Povetkin breached the contract by failing to abide by WBC anti-doping requirements when the parties specifically agreed that WBC’s decision on this question would be conclusive. Wilder has not shown that Povetkin’s ingestion of or positive test for meldonium was by itself a breach of the bout agreement.”
Povetkin and WOB had counterclaims against Wilder, accusing him of pulling out of the fight when he had no reason to do so, but the court dismissed those claims as well.