Jonny Rashman looks at the recent drug test failure of Jarrell Big Baby Miller and explains why boxing must take steps against the rising tide of cheating
Reacting to the familiar sight of the rain lashing down, smashing against my back garden floor, on Saturday afternoon in my city of birth (Manchester, England), the realisation that another British summertime was falling by the wayside began to sink in. There was also familiar news lashing around social media of disgraced heavyweight fighter Jarrell Miller failing yet another drugs test. Somehow, this still came as a surprise to some when the story broke.
Miller, who received a nine-month suspension in 2014 for doping during his kickboxing days and, just over 12 months ago, failed tests for multiple prohibited chemicals in the lead-up to his challenge against unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, has once again proved the kind of person his is. A cheat!
This is the same man who had the audacity to accuse Joshua of doping prior to their June 2019 meeting. The six-month suspension handed down to him by the World Boxing Association was just as comical as Miller’s claims. Furthermore, the lack of cohesion in the US regulatory system prevented Miller from receiving a punishment that fits the crime. In sports such as athletics and cycling, a ban of four years would have been imposed. How boxing can justify the weak sentences handed down to blatant cheats is hard to fathom, but partially explained by the federal system in the States. If a boxer is exiled from one state, there is always another wiling to sacrifice ethics for commercial gain.
Why Miller would throw away millions of pounds and the financial future of his family beggars belief. The brash talk and bold claims are all cosmetic, deep inside there is clearly a terrified fighter who doesn’t believe in his own ability.
The outcry on social media has been deafening. ‘Ban him for life’ is the phrase commonly being used. Will this happen? No. Not until the promoters take it into their own hands and blacklist him. Boxing can’t rely on its governing bodies to govern appropriately; this is proved with every fighter that still continues to fight, despite failing drug test after drug test. There is a certain Russian with a chequered history who still brazenly gets opportunity after opportunity. His next one is in super-promoter Eddie Hearn’s back garden. We can use all the words in the book, but it’s simply a joke and shames the sport of boxing.
Boxing promoters may argue it is not their job to dish out punishments to fighters who have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Whilst this is true, they must set the example. The drug-testing system in boxing is severely flawed. Fighters know they will get off lightly, despite the fact they are playing with another man’s life inside the ring.
It seems boxing is terrified of the short-term pain that would engulf the sport if lengthy bans were sanctioned. Are we really going to see Canelo banned for life? But he never cheated, he ate contaminated meat.
The irony is Miller’s profile is bigger than its ever been. Make no mistake there will be a promoter out there eagerly waiting to give him another opportunity once he resumes boxing. Which he will. After all, the reward for the Joshua debacle was a contract with Hall Of Fame promoter Bob Arum’s Top Rank outlet.
Miller defines what is wrong with boxing and how behind the times the sport is compared to others. Would Harry Kane appear for Tottenham and England six months after failing multiple drug tests? No. ‘But boxing isn’t governed by one body like English football,’ is the argument we constantly here. So, what, we don’t want to hear this drivel anymore. It is time for boxing to clear its act up once and for all.
What do we do? Very simple, we bring in a three-strike rule and the offender’s fight purse goes to the scheduled opponent. If you fail one drug test you get an automatic two-year ban, without question. If you fail two drug tests you get a four-year ban and if you fail three tests you’re banned for life.
Although every fighter in history plays the victim and sabotage cards, there are cases out there where a boxer has unknowingly consumed a banned substance. This must be considered. Boxing has to take these issues into account. Yes, it’s a political storm that will require the cooperation of rival sanctioning bodies. But they have to lead by example. Boxing has moved on from the days where shady characters with top hats and fur coats ran the sport. This is 2020 and boxing has to clean up his act.
As for the disgraced Miller, he will no doubt be conjuring a cobweb of lies to spin to us when he gives his next public interview. If he receives yet another ban, I’m sure the ‘I am a reformed character’ angle will be fed to us by his PR team. He doesn’t belong in the sport and his two minutes of fame will evaporate.