Celebrated boxing icon Catherine Phiri has been banned for two years for failing a doping test.
Catherine failed a doping test after her World Boxing Council (WBC) title fight early this year in February against Zimbabwe’s Kudakwashe Chiwandire in Lusaka…
Announcing the ban at a joint press briefing in Lusaka, Zambia Professional Boxing and Wrestling Control Board (ZPBWCB) Chairperson, Wamunyima Chingumbe said Catherine Phiri will not take part in any boxing or sporting activity.
The former female boxing champion was accompanied by her Manager Christopher Malunga and other boxing officials.
Dr Chingumbe explained that after Catherine’s title fight loss to Kudakwashe, a doping test was conducted and samples were sent to South Africa for analysis.
Dr Chingumbe said Catherine tested positive for Furosemide which is listed as one of the prohibited drugs.
He explained that Furosemide is not a performance enhancing drug but used to reduce weight and manage Edema (body swelling) which is associated with heart failure, liver and renal diseases.
Dr Chingumbe said Catherine was charged with committing an anti-doping rule violation under article 2.1 and 2.2 of the Anti-Doping rules and that the boxer admitted to using the drug.
The Boxing Board Control Chief said the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) through the Regional Anti-Doping Organisation (RADO) suspended Catherine from boxing until final determination of her case.
Dr Chingumbe said following the appointment of Irish Judge Susan Ahern by the Secretariat of Sports Resolutions, Catherine was handed a two year ban effective May 10, 2022.
Judge Ahern said she was pleased that Catherine voluntarily admitted and accepted the provisional suspension slapped on her in accordance with article 7.4.4 of the Anti-Doping rules.
“It was ruled that the athlete be deemed ineligible to participate in professional boxing or sporting competition of any nature for a period of two years, and that the period of ineligibility shall be deemed to have commenced on 10 May 2022 when the athlete voluntarily accepted the provisional suspension” said Dr Chingumbe.
Dr Chingumbe said the furosemide drug was not medically prescribed to Catherine but that the boxer used the drug in her own wisdom to shed off weight before her crunch title defence against Kudakwashe.
An emotional Catherine could not read her prepared statement which was read on her behalf by Boxing Board Control Secretary Posite Mbewe.
Catherine apologized to her fans and the nation for dragging the reputation of Zambian boxing in the mud.
The former champion said she has never taken any performance enhancing drug in her boxing career spanning over 10 years.
Catherine said the decision to take the drug was purely hers and an error of judgment on her part as she was concerned with losing weight and did not know that the drug was prohibited by WADA.
“During my preparation for my world title fight, I took a drug to help me lose weight quickly, not knowing that the drug was on the prohibited list. I did this without the knowledge of my coach and manager. I deeply regret my actions” said Catherine.
The former boxing champion commended the anti-doping authorities and boxing authorities in Zambia for professionally handling her case and assured her fans that she will be back after the two-year ban.
Christopher Malunga regretted the banning of Catherine and urged other boxers, coaches and promoters and stakeholders to learn from Catherine’s situation.
Malunga said it is imperative to ensure that drugs are not taken anyhow and that a doctor must be consulted at all times.
“Its important for boxers to be careful. Boxers need to be cautious before taking any drugs” said Malunga.
He urged boxing fans and the nation to stand by Catherine and give her moral and emotional support to get through her ban.
National Olympic Committee Secretary General Boniface Kambikambi urged stakeholders to take a keen interest in knowing the list of banned and prohibited drugs in sports.