Earlier today the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) held a council meeting to announce that the commission would begin to dissolve it's self due to significant financial difficulties.
The Commission's president, Yuhei Nagata, reported that the JBC had a deficit of ¥30 million in 2020. This has coupled by the fact that the Net Assets of the JBC are below ¥3 million for a second year running, which reportedly violates rules of a General Incorporated Foundation in Japan, meaning it needs to dissolve, if it cannot raise it's net assets above the ¥3 million make within the settlement period, of a maximum 1 year.
At the meeting it was explained that a major cause of the financial situation was Covid19, which led to fewer shows, and as a result less income for the Commission.
Notably it's also been reported that the directors and council members have resigned as of today
Despite the current situation the JBC have got a year to wind up their current operations, and will not be cancelling any currently scheduled bouts in Japan. They will also look to turn things around, and will be seeking sponsorships to try and revive it's financial well being within the settlement period. They are also, potentially, going to increase the fees for things like licenses and match approvals. If they fail to turn things around financially they will wind down, with plans to revive the Commission in the future.
Sadly for the JBC this news is the latest in a number of major issues to hit it in recent years. That includes the recent ¥100 million compensation payment due to Koki Kameda, as well as the issues with the drug testing of Kazuto Ioka in 2020, and the issues that followed the first bout between Kenshiro Teraji and Masamichi Yabuki last year.
The Commission, in it's current form, has been around since 1952, has been almost unchallenged in it's control of Japanese boxing for 70 years, with the short lived IBF-Japan being the only notable threat to the JBC's monopoly in Japan. Sadly if the financial situations can't be rectified this will be a dark time for Japanese boxing, and could see the reputation the JBC has crafted for boxing in Japan, where fairness has been key, begin to fall apart.
Over the weekend the ever reliable "The Page" reported a worrying story about the issues within Japanese boxing, and issues that look set to snowball very quickly if the boxing authorities can't sort things out.
The Page reported that on November 13th the Japan Boxing Association (JPBA) held an extraordinary board meeting in Osaka, to discuss the their relationship with the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC), and in particular their Executive Director Nobuaki Uratani.
Earlier this year WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (27-2, 15) [井岡一翔] requested that Mr Uratani stepped down from his role following the drug testing mess that had seen Ioka have a false positive drug test and had police turn up at his house to question him about marijuana.
Ioka and the JPBA had requested that Uratani stepped down, calling for his resignation to be done by the end of October. The meeting earlier this week however saw them report that the JBC had given "zero answer" on the future of Mr Uratani. As a result it appears that the JPBA are now set to, essentially, make Mr Uratani persona non-gratis and not allow him to enter and leave buildings being used by the JPBA. Essentially preventing him from attending Japanese boxing events. The idea is to force the JBC to act, and if no action is made then the JPBA have reportedly decided to boycott the JBC, and will begin to use non-JBC affiliated officials, and refuse to pay the JBC fees.
The Page have reported that there is a worst case scenario of a complete split in Japanese boxing, which would, essentially, be the biggest shake up in Japanese boxing since the JBC was formed back in the 1950's.
The Page go on to add that the JPBA no longer have trust in the JBC, and that the JBC ignored ultimatums regarding Mr Uratani. Sadly though the Ioka incident isn't an isolated case. There was also the case of RK Kamata Gym's chairman Kazuhiro Ryuko, who was handed a 3 month suspension, before a protest from the JPBA got that rescinded. Whilst that was an embarrassing issue for the JBC, the real stickler is Ioka's drug testing saga, and the lack of accountability from the JBC, who apologised, but haven't punished anyone, or made any changes to their governance.
If the two sides do fail to reach some form of agreement, we will be set for a huge shake up of Japanese boxing. The JPBA, which essentially looks after the gyms and fighters, and the JBC, which manages the sport in Japan, have had a relationship where they have needed each other, but with the JPBA setting out their stall, it may be that they need to begin a plan to find a new body to govern the sport, or even look to govern it themselves, in what would be a massive political power play from them going forward.
Earlier today WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15) [井岡一翔] and JBC chairman Yuhei Nagata took part in a press conference regarding the alleged doping violations which have hung over Ioka for several months, despite Ioka being cleared of all wrong doing.
The press conference began with Mr Nagata apologising on behalf of the JBC to Ioka, and Ioka's family. Mr Nagata explained that the drug testing that took place for Ioka's 2020 bout with Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成] was sloppy and the way the JBC approached the police, who visited Ioka at home, was wrong. Mr Nagata also apologised for the way details regarding to the case were leaked to the media and explained that the JBC were now going to bring in better doping tests, and strengthen the governance in regards to leaks to the media.
At the event Ioka stated:
"Today I received a direct apology from JBC for a series of alleged doping violations. I have been asking for a direct apology with the utmost importance. It's not, but I'd like to accept it as an apology. I've talked about the anguish I've experienced in a series of turmoil in many places. I don't want the boxer to show up again. I'm the only one who has such a hard time.
JBC acknowledged and adopted all the mistakes I pointed out. We would like to thank all those involved for their efforts to accept such an apology. Now that I've got one point, I'd like to focus on the defense battle, the effort to win, and the training, just like a sportsman. I hope all the fans will look forward to my next defense. "
Nagata went on to explain that there has now been a new committee set up to prevent leaks, involving 3 external lawyers, and there is a report on the position of Mr Nagata, with that report being expected in late August.
In regards to drug testing in Japan, there is set to be major changes. The JBC will be moving away from the simple, out dated tests that they currently use, to carrying out modern day testing and cryopreserving samples. The JBC will also be training their staff to carry out inspections, and work alongside the Japan Anti Doping Agency (JADA).
Last week talented Japanese fighter Masahiro Suzuki (6-0, 4) [鈴木 雅弘] scored a career best win as he stopped Daishi Nagata (15-3-2, 6) [永田大士] and claimed the Japanese Light Welterweight title by the unbeaten. Today it's been announced that his reign is already over, with Suzuki vacating the title less than a week after winning it!
Suzuki is vacating the title to return to his natural Lightweight division, the division that he was ranked in at the start of the year, and the division that better suits his rather small frame. It seems like the plan is for Suzuki to begin pursuing a shot at triple crown Lightweight champion Shuichiro Yoshino (13-0, 10) [吉野 修一郎], who will be defending his Japanese title on August 12th.
Due to Suzuki's decision we now expect to see Andy Hiraoka (17-0, 12) [平岡アンディ] fight for the vacant title later in the year, against a yet to be announced opponent.
One of the big stories hanging over the head of Japanese boxing was the news, in April, that WBO Super Flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (26-2, 15) [井岡一翔] had failed a doping test around the time of his bout with Kosei Tanaka (15-1, 9) [田中恒成], at the very end of 2020. The news broke from a Weekly magazine in Japan, rather than an official statement from the Japan Boxing Commission (JBC) and it seemed badly mishandled from the off, with the police being involved and Ioka himself not being informed of an adverse finding.
Things got even stranger when reports circulated that the test on the A sample had discovered an element of marijuana, hence the police involvement, but that the B sample had found 3 elements of banned substances.
At the time of the news Ioka proclaimed his innocence, his lawyer seemed to clear things up with the police, and charges were seemingly dropped rather quickly, how the JBC themselves were going to investigate what happened. They were going to take control and look at how we came to the situation of a Weekly magazine reporting the news, and whether there were other issues with the whole testing process.
And amazingly the JBC have done the right thing here. They have, unlike many boxing commissions, take full responsibility to the fact that they messed up. Big time. As they held a press conference, and shared a report, to explain what happened and what will happen going forward. And lets just start by saying this is an incredibly embarrassing moment for the JBC which featured a catalogue of errors.
We'll start with the outcome for Ioka. The JBC investigation ruled that there was no doping violation by the fighter. Instead JBC president Yuhei Nagata stated that he apologises to Ioka in full for the situation and will personally meet Ioka and Tanaka, to apologise for the situation.
More tellingly however was the announcement that there would be a new doping committee and governance committee set up to avoid similar issues in the future.
They also explained what happened, and this is where things get laughably bad for the JBC.
The A and B samples from both fighters were taken and stored. Rather than taking them straight to a hospital or lab the samples were taken to the home of a JBC staff member and put in the home fridge for several days. They were then taken, by public transport, to the hospital on January 5th. When transported they were moved at room temperature, being taken from the testing venue to the staff members home, and from the staff members home to the hospital without being stored properly. They were never frozen at any point. Essentially this alone invalidated any testing protocol.
When Ioka's A sample was finally tested on January 6th, a week after the sample was taken, THC was found, a prohibited substance on WADA's list and with it being cannabis an illegal drug in Japan. A third party then tested the B sample and found 3 prohibited substances, other than cannabis, including ephedrine, a blood pressure medication and a drug banned as a stimulant by WADA, on January 29th. Almost a full month after the original samples were taken.
On March 5th, again more than a month after the B samples were taken, there was a JBC meeting to discuss whether or not to consult the police. No agreement was made at the meeting however information was shared with the police force on the advice of a lawyer who was at the meeting. The police then began their investigation, taking the B sample on March 9th. More than 2 months after the sample was originally taken. The police requested that the JBClet them investigate the matter before holding their own ethics committee meeting regarding the situation.
On April 9th the police reportedly finished their investigation on the B sample, and used it all in the process.
It was later revealed that the original test, on the A sample, was a simple screening test, not an in depth analysis. This gives a provisional result, but can't be used to confirm anything. It was essentially a cheap commercial kit that should have acted as a platform to do a proper, full scale test. Something that wasn't done. Even if it had, however, it would have been useless as the sample was never frozen. In fact by not having frozen the sample it potentially lead to the screening test giving a false positive. Simply, the JBC failed to store the sample properly. As a result the test was essentially ruined, and useless.
The three chemicals found in the B sample were revealed to be ephedrine, as already mentioned, phenethylamine, a stimulant, and tyramine. These were not, as originally reported, 3 more metabolites of cannabis but are typically used for blood pressure and as a stimulant. Of course the B sample, like the A sample, had been rendered void by the mishandling of the samples, which again weren't frozen and were completely mismanaged. The view here was that the samples had decomposed in a way to produce a false positive of these three chemicals.
Kentaro Sadahiro, a lawyer of the Ethics Committee who participated in the press conference, explained "There is a strong suspicion that the cannabis produced in the first test is a false positive...it's possible that poor storage has created a result for something that wasn't originally there. "
They also included some very clear issues with the way the B sample was used, not just stored but used, explaining that they should have informed Ioka of the positive outcome to give him the chance to request a retest, and the opportunity to explain why a substance may have been in his sample. They admitted there was a "serious procedural defect" and it seems very clear that this really is inexcusable. At the very least an athlete deserves to be informed of a positive test, so they can be there when a B sample is opened.
Mr Nagata explained that there are no current provisions for storage of samples of their movements, and even explained "I thought it would be okay to store them in a refrigerator." He also explained that the B sample was never returned by the police, stating "I asked the police to return the sample, but I was told that they used all of it because the amount was small."
It was also, and again this does not reflect well on the JBC, that there are many issues with the doping tests they use to begin with and they only detect a small number of the prohibited substances and that they are still using simple tests, one that were apparently used in the 1990's and not up to today's standards. Mr Nagata made it clear that this was set to change and that full scale tests from the JBC would be brought in for A samples in the future.
All in all this seemingly completely clears Ioka, and seems genuinely embarrassing for the JBC who are usually held as being among the very best commissions in the sport. It's great that they have taken responsibility and said that they failed here, unlike some commissions thats blame the fans and bury their heads in the sand as things they need to sort out, but it's inexplicable as to how we ended up in this situation and just how bad the JBC come across here.
They should have known that samples need to be frozen, they should have been aware that the provisional tests needed to be followed up on, and that the athlete needs to be informed of a positive test, and that the athlete has a right to attend the B sample testing, and that the sample should have been analysed properly, rather than just handed over to the police, and that the sample needs to be frozen before transit. Likewise for them to take almost a month to test the B sample is just inexplicable.
All in all a series of confusing mistakes that are indefensible and really cannot be done again.
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