Super middleweight titlist David Benavidez tests positive for cocaine

Super middleweight world titleholder David Benavidez has tested positive for the banned substance benzoylecgonine, the key ingredient in cocaine.

Benavidez's sample was positive for the substance in a random test conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association as part of the WBC Clean Boxing Program. The sanctioning organization requires its titleholders and top contenders to be tested randomly, and the program is overseen by VADA.

"The WBC has received confirmation from VADA of an adverse finding of David Benavidez. Protocol to immediately begin," WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman wrote on social media on Tuesday.

According to a letter VADA sent Tuesday to the Benavidez camp and the WBC, which was obtained by ESPN, Benavidez's positive A urine sample was collected on Aug. 27 in Las Vegas.

"Mr. Benavidez has the right to promptly request analysis of the 'B' sample at his expense," VADA president Dr. Margaret Goodman wrote in the letter.

Benavidez (20-0, 17 KOs), 21, of Phoenix, is boxing's youngest active world titleholder and the younger brother of welterweight contender Jose Benavidez Jr., who is preparing to challenge world titleholder Terence Crawford on Oct. 13.

David Benavidez claimed a vacant 168-pound world title in September 2017, when he won a split decision against Ronald Gavril in a brutal fight to become the youngest fighter in division history to earn a world title. In his first defense, Benavidez easily outpointed Gavril in a rematch on Feb. 17.

Benavidez is due to make a mandatory defense against former titlist Anthony Dirrell (32-1-1, 24 KOs) this fall, though the fight has not yet been officially scheduled. It is unclear how the positive drug test will impact the fight, because Benavidez faces a probable WBC suspension.

Benavidez is no stranger to outside-the-ring issues in his career.

In May, despite being under contract to promoter Sampson Lewkowicz after signing an extension of his promotional agreement through 2021 in November, Benavidez accepted a $250,000 signing bonus to go with Top Rank, which promotes his brother. Eventually, Benavidez returned the signing bonus to Top Rank and went back to Lewkowicz, avoiding litigation.