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Bellew: Billy Joe Saunders is no drug cheat

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Tony Bellew has casted a vote of confidence for Saunders following his failed drug test.

Oleksandr Usyk and Tony Bellew Press Conference Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Tony Bellew tells ESPN that he knows that Billy Joe Saunders isn’t a cheat. Saunders recently failed a VADA drug test for oxilofrine ahead of was supposed to be his Oct. 20 middleweight title defense in Boston against Demetrius Andrade.

Based on the failed drug test, which Saunders says was a result of a common nasal spray, Saunders was not licensed by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission for the fight and essentially had to vacate his world title, otherwise be stripped.

Bellew says he empathizes with Saunders over the situation.

“I don’t class [heavyweight] Dillian Whyte as a steroid cheat because he drank a drink he got over the counter. If it’s proven that Billy Joe Saunders sniffed a nasal spray, I believe the person who gave it to him knew, but Billy would never have taken a steroid. I know that because I have spent a lot of time around Billy Joe.”

Then, after going on to blast the likes of Luis Ortiz and “cheating scumbag” Alexander Povetkin as the real culprits in the sport, Bellew says:

“Billy Joe Saunders has not taken a performance enhancing drug injected into him like Ortiz, like Povetkin. Billy hasn’t done that. I know Billy is no cheat.”

But while it’s nice that Bellew extends his support to Saunders, it’s unlikely to have any real significant impact at this point. Saunders is already without a fight, without a title, and is only clinging to the hope of successfully suing the Massachusetts commission for loss of earnings.