UKAD Finally Catches Boxer Using EPO After He Used Steroids and hGH for Six Years

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Heavyweight boxer Larry ‘War Machine’ Olubamiwo used a variety of anabolic steroids, human growth hormone (hGH), insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) and other performance-enhancing drugs over a period of six years as a steroid-tested athlete. He was finally caught by the anti-doping police after a boxing match with Sam Sexton on January 13, 2012. Anti-doping testers didn’t catch him for using steroids. Instead, Olubamiwo tested positive for erythropoietin (EPO). EPO is the blood boosting drug which became a household name thanks to its rampant use among professional cyclists.

The Olubamiwo case, and his long-term use of PEDs over an extended period of time, was a major embarrassment for United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD). UKAD did its best to spin the news with an announcement of a four-year doping ban. Andy Parkinson, the Chief Executive Officer for UKAD, tried to characterize Olubamiwo’s suspension for an admitted 13 banned substances as a success in the war against doping in sports.

“This is an extreme example of someone who has engaged in an intentional and uncompromising doping programme over a sustained period with little or no regard for his own health, the reputation of the sport he competed in, or his fellow competitors,” said Parkinson. “The list of substances Mr Olubamiwo admits to taking is both alarming and disappointing. However, he is now banned for a period of four years thanks to information which informed our testing programme.”

What is more “alarming” and “disappointing” is the fact that Olubamiwo could successfully avoid detection for so long during a period when anti-doping advocates claimed they made huge strides in their efforts towards a “clean” sport.

Furthermore, Olubamiwo was finally caught only because the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) provided UKAD with evidence that the boxer was linked to an investigation involving the illegal distribution of anabolic steroids and PEDs in the U.S. Intelligence collected by the DEA during Operation Raw Deal in 2007 allowed UKAD to perform “targeted testing” in 2012 that resulted in the EPO positive doping result.

Robert Smith, the General Secretary for the British Boxing Board of Control, backed up Parkinson’s assertion that Olubamiwo’s suspension was a major accomplishment and proof of the success of its anti-doping efforts.

“While this case is extremely sad for the boxing community as a whole, it demonstrates that cheats cannot hide and that doping will not be tolerated,” said Smith.

What do you think? Does Olubamiwo’s suspension represents a success in the war on doping? Or is it simply more evidence that athletes are light-years ahead of testers?

Photo credit: LarryOlubamiwo.co.uk


Davies, G. (June 18, 2012). Larry Olubamiwo handed four-year ban following positive doping test and admitting to taking 13 banned substances. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/boxing/9340383/Larry-Olubamiwo-handed-four-year-ban-following-positive-doping-test-and-admitting-to-taking-13-banned-substances.html