News broke last month that WBO super flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka, who already had a rocky relationship with the famously strict Japanese Boxing Commission (JBC), tested positive for marijuana after his December knockout of Kazuto Ioka. Earlier today, the commission held a press conference to announce that they’d cleared Ioka of all charges after discovering a litany of errors in their literal and metaphorical handling of the situation.
Asian Boxing has a breakdown of the commission’s findings, and since they’ve done the hard work, I’ll stick to bullet points.
- Ioka’s (26-2, 15 KO) A and B samples were stored in a staff member’s refrigerator before being taken to the hospital at room temperature several days later. Neither was ever frozen.
- The A sample, subjected to a “simple screening test” as opposed to a full analysis, tested positive for marijuana, while the B sample showed ephedrine, phenethylamine, and tyramine, but no marijuana when tested a month later. With the aforementioned storage errors, the commission deemed these false positives
- Ioka was not informed of the initial test failure.
- The commission passed the B sample on to the police, as marijuana possession is a serious crime in Japan, but did not to do until March. The police’s testing used the entirety of the sample, making it impossible to seek a second opinion.
According to Asian Boxxing, the commission took full responsibility for their mistakes and announced “a new doping committee and governance committee...to avoid similar issues in the future.” Chairman of the Board Yuhei Nagata was appropriately contrite.
“I can’t deny the handling of the samples was sloppy, and it’s a fact that Ioka’s reputation was tarnished by his name being leaked to the media,” Nagata said. “I want to meet him in person and apologize.”
Ioka, meanwhile, isn’t quite ready to let bygones be bygones.
“I cannot forgive them just like that. To be honest I’m not sure if I can keep fighting with peace of mind,” Ioka said. “This thing blew up and for a month and a half changed my life completely. I thought that this would be the end of my career.”
Let’s hope Ioka does find that peace of mind; super flyweight is a phenomenal division at the moment and he’s a key part of that,.