'King Kong' Ortiz stripped of mandatory challenger status for positive drug test

Heavyweight contender Luis "King Kong" Ortiz will pay a stiff price for his second failed drug test in three years.

Ortiz, the mandatory challenger for Anthony Joshua's WBA title belt, had his status revoked and was suspended on Thursday by the sanctioning organization.

"Ortiz' status and recognition as mandatory contender is revoked. Ortiz is removed from the WBA ratings and suspended from participation in any WBA sanctioned bouts for one year [until Sept. 22, 2018]," the WBA wrote in its resolution, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN. "After March 22, 2018, Ortiz may request his suspension be lifted, which may only be granted in the sole discretion of the WBA."

The ruling does not prevent Ortiz from fighting other bouts or for other organizations.

The 38-year-old Ortiz (27-0, 23 KOs), a Cuban defector who fights out of Miami and is a big-punching southpaw, was scheduled to challenge Deontay Wilder for his WBC version of the heavyweight world title on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, in a Showtime-televised main event.

However, Ortiz tested positive for chlorothiazide and hydrochlorothiazide -- two banned diuretics known to be masking agents for performance-enhancing drugs -- in a random urine test conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association on Sept. 22.

Ortiz was subsequently dropped from the fight with Wilder and replaced with former titleholder Bermane Stiverne, Wilder's mandatory challenger.

Ortiz did not deny he took the substances, but he said it was because they were in medication prescribed to regulate high blood pressure. However, when he filled out his VADA testing paperwork, Ortiz did not indicate he was taking the medication despite the questionnaire asking specifically about any he might be on. Ortiz also had not asked for a therapeutic-use exemption.

"Despite multiple opportunities to do so, Mr. Ortiz never declared that he was using a banned substance, nor sought a TUE prior to the test," the WBA wrote in its resolution. Nonetheless, despite being dropped from the WBC fight, Ortiz and his team held out hope that he would be allowed to maintain his WBA mandatory status until the organization came down on him Thursday.

"For the suspension to be lifted, Ortiz must continue to fully participate in the VADA Clean Boxing Program at his expense, shall not otherwise test positive for any prohibited substance or refuse to be randomly tested, and must undergo an independent medical evaluation to determine whether he is medically fit to fight," the WBA ordered in its ruling.

The WBA's decision was based, in part, on the fact that Ortiz also failed a drug test in conjunction with his September 2014 fight for the WBA's vacant interim heavyweight belt. He scored a blistering first-round knockout of Lateef Kayode in Las Vegas to win the interim belt, but the pre-fight urine sample he provided to the Nevada State Athletic Commission tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid nandrolone in the postfight drug screen.

The belt was taken away from Ortiz, the result of the fight was changed to a no decision and Ortiz was fined and suspended for eight months by the Nevada commission.