What’s left of Zolani Tete’s career is in jeopardy.
According to a report published Monday by The Daily Dispatch, a South African newspaper, the former WBO bantamweight champion faces a possible four-year ban because he tested positive for a banned substance around the time of his fourth-round knockout of Jason Cunningham on July 2 at OVO Arena Wembley in London.
The banned substance for which Tete failed his test wasn’t identified by The Daily Dispatch, but Tete’s manager, Mla Tengimfene, stated that the South African southpaw had arranged to have his “B” sample tested Tuesday. The test was administered by UK Anti-Doping [UKAD].
“We are confident that this is one big mistake. Zolani has no knowledge of this and in all the years I have been with him he has never failed a dope test. It baffles me that he would do it now at the tail end of his career,” Tengimfene said to The Daily Dispatch.
If Tete’s “B” sample comes back positive for the same substance, the British Boxing Board of Control could suspend the 34-year-old contender for a maximum of four years. The BBBofC’s ban could last less than four years if Tete’s team makes a convincing argument that he didn’t knowingly use the banned substance.
Interestingly, Tete was a vocal advocate of stronger PED testing prior to his involvement in the World Boxing Super Series’ bantamweight tournament in 2018 and 2019.
Tete (30-4, 23 KOs) is enrolled in the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association’s “Clean Boxing Program,” which subjects boxers ranked by the WBC to year-round testing. The WBC ranked Tete eighth among its contenders for its 122-pound champion, Stephen Fulton, in its most recent ratings.
Tete also is ranked third by the WBO and sixth by the IBF in the junior featherweight division.
The Philippines’ John Riel Casimero dropped Tete twice in the third round and stopped him to win the WBO 118-pound championship from him as part of the World Boxing Super Series in November 2019 at Utilita Arena in Birmingham, England. Tete, also a former IBF junior bantamweight champion, has fought just twice in the three years since he lost the WBO bantamweight belt, but his impressive knockout of England’s Cunningham (31-7, 7 KOs) re-energized the aging veteran.
If Tete’s test results are upheld and he is suspended by the BBBofC, the result of his fight against Cunningham likely will be changed to a no-contest.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.