Robert Helenius places it bluntly: “In Finland, if I would be caught, I would be lynched for my whole life.”
The 39-year-old Finn is the largest – maybe solely – beneficiary on this week’s saga, which has seen Dillian Whyte return an ‘adverse finding’ in a drug take a look at, inflicting him to be pulled from his important occasion with Anthony Joshua. Helenius, on seven days’ discover, will now struggle Joshua at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday, however he’s nonetheless damning of a state of affairs that has handed him one of many largest bouts of his profession.
“Of course it’s a problem, because I don’t think everybody’s on the same level,” he tells reporters on Wednesday. “I think some boxers have some privileges that others don’t. I think anti-doping should be the same in every country. For example, in your country, when Dillian gets caught, nobody cares. I would get a two-year minimum [ban], or I would never get a licence again.”
Prior to final week, Whyte had twice handled doping-related dramas. The Briton, 35, served a two-year ban from 2012 to 2014 and was cleared of wrongdoing in a separate episode in 2019. He will once more be investigated following final week’s failed take a look at, however irrespective of the end result, eyebrows have been raised.
Helenius additionally references Tyson Fury and Alexander Povetkin as high-profile heavyweights to have examined optimistic for a banned substance earlier than returning to the game, with each males boxing on the largest stage thereafter. “How is this possible?” Helenius asks, incredulously. “Either they should legalise everything for everybody, or have the same standard for everybody.
“Of course it feels like I’m at a disadvantage, because I don’t have that luxury of doing that stuff – because they come to my home to do my blood tests and everything, all the time. It’s not fair, but who said that life should be fair?
“My doping is: I have a really high level of Viking blood in me!”
Joshua stays calmer on the subject – stunningly so, given how this week has affected him, and contemplating that he was burnt by a short-notice struggle with Andy Ruiz in June 2019, after his authentic opponent Jarrell Miller examined optimistic for a number of banned substances. “It happens in boxing,” Joshua says. “It’s not the first time it’s happened. [It’s happening more], so I wasn’t so surprised to be honest.”
Joshua, 33, additionally performs down recommendations that he is perhaps ‘disgusted’ with Whyte, and even simply ‘angry’. Remarkably, the Briton is beneficiant sufficient to provide some fighters the good thing about the doubt. “I hope it’s a mistake [with Whyte], but that’s why I have to invest in these tests, etc, and now I ask the team: ‘Can they get Helenius tested as well?’ It’s important to make sure we’re on top of these things. I actually don’t know what Dillian was caught with, I don’t know what was in his system.
“I don’t wish Dillian any bad. His reputation is tarnished, it’s not good for him. It’s not ‘disgusting’ [to me], but… Boxing’s not an institution where you join a club and everything’s presented to you. These guys go to local gyms, they’re probably around people who are doing dodgy stuff. I don’t know what it is, but you have to be very, very responsible. Boxing’s so tough; your body hurts, you’re tired, you’re trying to look for small advantages, and you’ve got some guy at the gym who’s always got energy, lifts more than you, trains harder than you, and he’s like: ‘This is what I take, take this.’ If you don’t do your research, it can lead to a positive drug test.
“I’ve been drug tested since 2011, then I started [pushing for] drug testing for my opponents around 2017. Who knows [if Whyte was doping when Joshua faced him in 2015]? I won, that’s the main thing! They must be doing it without knowing, because I think the money is better than a ban. Why would you go through a whole training camp to dope at the end and get banned? I just think they’re not careful.”
Joshua’s response is particularly commendable when one considers that Whyte and Miller each accused “AJ” of doping, regardless of an absence of proof. “You’ve got to question the person who’s accusing people, sometimes!” Joshua says. “It’s funny, those two actually popped dirty themselves. It’s probably because of my physique maybe, or my rise in boxing, it just didn’t make sense to them because they’re probably working hard. Sometimes it’s just natural – God gifted, and a lot of hard work as well.”
Joshua, who claims it’s “not morally right” to struggle somebody who’s utilizing a banned substance, additionally expresses frustration at an absence of consistency – not in punishment, per Helenius’s level, however in testing. “I get drug tested all year round,” he says. “Every quarter I have to submit my whereabouts, where I’m gonna be for one hour in a day, so they can turn up randomly if they want. It’s been like that since 2011, I’ve just submitted it every day of my life. Why am I under that pressure but other boxers aren’t? Once you sign up to a promoter, they should all have that under their organisation.”
Derek Chisora, a good friend of Joshua’s, advised at Wednesday’s press convention that Whyte may not be accountable however relatively his crew. Joshua’s response? “I can understand where Chisora is coming from, because I get a plate of food presented to me, I don’t cook. Who’s giving [Whyte] this stuff? But I know what I’m taking, whoever’s giving it to me. It should be easy enough to know…
“If I was to get caught on drugs, I’d be like: ‘Ah, f***; it’s probably this, this, this or this. These are the four supplements I’m taking.’ He doesn’t know what he’s taken or where it’s come from, he’s shocked. I know who gave me these bottles of water when I came in, who gives me my food, my supplements. It’s easy to track what’s going on in your life.”
Joshua once more differs in opinion from Helenius, to a level, as he says: “I don’t think we need longer bans, I think we need to get it at the root. It’s backwards, boxing. You’ve got someone that’s come out of the Olympics, with potential to be a champion, who’s training in someone’s backyard swimming pool! If that’s me, who’s got potential, then you’ve got a kid coming out of nowhere and training in his local gym… he can easily be led down the wrong path.
“There’s no support, no guidance. That’s why I always say: There’s the fight in the ring and the fight outside the ring, which is even harder. You need to get your s*** right outside; Dillian didn’t have his s*** right outside, and he can’t get in the ring.”