Boxers are dying. They are getting beaten in the ring not within an inch of their lives, but an inch beyond. In the span of four days, Maxim Dadashev and Hugo Santillan no longer draw breath on this earth.
And while there is zero indication that either of their opponents were juiced up with performance-enhancing (read: violence-enhancing) drugs, there's every reason in the world to declare that enough is enough: the use of PEDs in combat sports increases the risk of a lethal tragedy in the ring or the Octagon.
And as a result, boxing's governing bodies need to take a bold, unprecedented step: ban Dillian Whyte for life now that he's tested positive for two banned substances. Make an example out of him. Scream, at long last, two immutable words:
Let's be clear: per BoxingScene.com, Whyte tested positive for relatively small amounts hydroxymethandienone and epimethandienone. Both substances are metabolized by-products of the anabolic steroid metandienone, which is often distributed under the brand name Dianobol. The particular quantity in question, however, shouldn't matter a lick.
The only thing that matters here is that human beings are being punched to death, and doping in advance of a fight only heightens the danger of another death. An awful, soul-shattering, preventable death.
And did I mention that the relevant anti-doping organizations and the British Board of Boxing Control were aware of Whyte's positive test before he fought and defeated Oscar Rivas Saturday?
They knew. Yes, yell this to yourself as if you were Mark Ruffalo. They knew, and they let the fight go on anyway-- one day after Maxim Dadashev sustained what turned out to be fatal in-ring injuries.
Dillian Whyte, one of the most successful operators in what we'd call the second tier of global heavyweight fighters, has never grievously injured an opponent in the ring. He's never been admonished for excessive belligerence outside the bounds of boxing ethics, including in his resounding victory over Rivas.
But it must be said that it could have been anyone that dealt lethal force to the skull and brain of Maxim Dadashev. It could have been anyone that signed Hugo "Dinamita" Santillan's death warrant without even knowing it. It's not about intent; it's about the basic, common-sense minimization of risk. And point-blank, steroids and associated PEDs fly in the face of what ought to be the single most essential ideal in the strange damn world of the sweet science.
We've seen the costs. And now, it's incumbent on boxing's ruling organizations to shout from the rooftops that there's to be a renewed focus on safety in a sport that, in so many ways, can never actually be safe. And that starts with rolling Dillian Whyte hard for how he cheated-- even if it feels wildly, excessively harsh.
A lifetime ban is nasty. But it sure beats one day watching a man die.