Heavyweight Andrzej Wawrzyk, who was due to challenge Deontay Wilder for his world title on Feb. 25 in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card on Fox in prime time, has tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol.
Wawrzyk and Wilder were being randomly tested -- blood and urine -- under the rules of the WBC's Clean Boxing Program, which is overseen by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association.
According to the letter sent by VADA president Dr. Margaret Goodman notifying those involved of the positive test and obtained by ESPN, Wawrzyk was given urine tests in Warsaw, Poland, where he lives, on Jan. 15 and 16. The results of both tests, which were returned Tuesday night, were positive, and the parties were notified.
According to the VADA letter, Wawrzyk's samples were "analyzed for anabolic agents, diuretics, beta-2 agonists, stimulants and drugs of abuse. The results of the analysis for each specimen is as follows: Adverse. Urine specimen contains stanozolol metabolites."
Although Wawrzyk promoter Leon Margules of Warriors Boxing was aware of the positive results, he said the fighter did not yet know because it was the middle of the night in Poland.
The letter from VADA noted that Wawrzyk "has the right to promptly request analysis of the 'B' samples at his expense." It is extraordinarily uncommon for a "B" sample to return a result any different from the "A" sample.
Wilder promoter Lou DiBella told ESPN that the card, scheduled to take place at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama -- Wilder's home state, where he is a major attraction -- will go on as planned, with a new challenger to be determined to face Wilder.
"I just found out about the positive test [Tuesday night] and already every promoter with a heavyweight who can breathe is texting me or calling me trying to get the fight," DiBella said. "I'm sitting here with my trusty iPad, and I am going to look at YouTube videos and rankings, and we're just going to work. We'll get a new opponent for Deontay. Feb 25 is going to go ahead as planned.
"But I'm just shaking my head. Deontay is just shaking his head. But we have a month before the fight, so we have time to get another opponent. The show will go on. I'm not happy about this, but I am much happier to find out now instead of finding out a few days before the fight."
It is the second time in a row Wilder's original opponent failed a drug test and the bout was called off. In May, Wilder was scheduled to face mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin in Moscow. But Povetkin tested positive for the banned substance meldonium less than two weeks before the fight, and the bout was canceled. The camps are in litigation over the cancellation, and the case is due to go trial in U.S. federal court in New York next month.
Wilder (37-0, 36 KOs), 31, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, instead faced Chris Arreola in July and knocked him out in the eighth round of a one-sided fight to retain his belt for the fourth time. In the bout, Wilder broke his right hand and tore his right biceps, which required surgery and kept him out of action for the rest of the year.
The 29-year-old Wawrzyk (33-1, 19 KOs) was a dubious title challenger to begin with, though he was ranked in the WBC's top 15. He has no significant wins, although he has won six bouts in a row since suffering his lone loss, a third-round knockout to Povetkin in 2013 in a world title bout in Moscow.
DiBella said the recent positive tests -- Povetkin failed a second test in December for the banned muscle building substance ostarine -- illustrate why the WBC's Clean Boxing Program is so important.
"They're going to prevent an injury or a real problem," DiBella said. "People have been blowing tests left and right in the program. My point of view is that there is a need for the Clean Boxing Program and VADA. And it's working, because people are being caught.
"We have a clean champion named Deontay Wilder who has nothing to hide, and we'll make sure when he gets in the ring, he gets in the ring with another guy who is also clean. Steroids and any kind of PED are not safe for the people taking them and not safe for the guy he is going to fight. Obviously, there is a problem, but the WBC and VADA are doing their part to help clean it up."