Manuel Charr tests positive for steroids and is set to be stripped of WBA title

Charr says he is shocked and claims innocence. (AFP)
Updated 20 September 2018
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Manuel Charr tests positive for steroids and is set to be stripped of WBA title

  • Lebanon fighter has been forced to call off title defense against Fres Oquendo.
  • Two substances were founds in samples taken at a training camp on 31 August.

LONDON: World heavyweight champion Manuel Charr has had to call off next week’s title defense, and is set to be stripped of his WBA belt, after testing positive for steroids.

The 33-year-old, who was born in Lebanon but lives in Germany, was due to defend his title against American Fres Oquendo, 45, in Cologne on September 29, but the fight is off after Charr tested positive for two anabolic steroids.

“Under the circumstances, we will unfortunately have to cancel the world title fight,” Charr told Cologne-based newspaper Express and his management confirmed the title defense was off to SID, an AFP subsidiary.

“I can only ask my fans and all the people in Cologne to believe me and to trust that everything will be cleared up.

“I’m totally shocked by the news — I have never taken anything.”

Charr is set to lose the World Boxing Association belt he won last year, but Britain’s Anthony Joshua is the WBA ‘Super’ champion and will defend his title in London on Saturday against Alexander Povetkin.

Germany’s top selling daily Bild, Express and magazine Spiegel all report Charr tested positive for the steroids epitrenbolone and drostanolone.

“These are both anabolic steroids. That is absolute hardcore doping. In boxers, the emphasis is on increasing muscle strength,” doping expert Fritz Soergel told Bild.

The ‘B’ sample will now be tested, but if they also contain the steroids then the future looks bleak for Charr.

“The fight is shelved. In my opinion, the WBA will take the belt off Manuel,” Thomas Puetz, President of the German Professional Boxers Federation (BDB), told SID.

“Two substances were founds in one of Manuel’s samples taken at a training camp on 31 August, which have been on the banned list for some time.”

Charr won the vacant WBA belt last November with a unanimous win against Russia’s Alexander Ustinov and claimed to be Germany’s first heavyweight champion since Max Schmeling.

It turned out to be a lie, because the Beirut-born son of a Syrian family does not own a German passport.

Charr’s failed drugs test is the latest twist in a colorful career.

In September 2015, he was left fighting for his life after being shot in the stomach following an altercation at a kebab restaurant in Essen.

He returned to the ring just seven months later, bearing the scars of the attack on his abdomen, but another setback followed earlier last year when both hips had to be replaced.


Tokyo Olympic tickets: Be prepared to be disappointed

Updated 20 June 2019
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Tokyo Olympic tickets: Be prepared to be disappointed

  • “This is probably going to be the most popular Olympics, and possibly one of the most popular events of all time,” said Ken Hanscom, the chief operating officer of TicketManager
  • Tokyo organizers say that 7.5 million residents of Japan registered to apply for tickets through the lottery system

TOKYO: Want tickets for next year’s Tokyo Olympics? Prepare to be let down.
Millions were disappointed starting Thursday when applicants in a ticket lottery — for Japan residents, only — began learning if they landed tickets. The answer is going to be overwhelmingly — no. The same will be true for residents outside Japan who could experience a similar dejection: too much demand and too few tickets.
This was not the case at the last several games — the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro — when tickets were given away and volunteers were often summoned to fill empty seats for the television cameras. At times, there were too many empty seats to fill.
“This is probably going to be the most popular Olympics, and possibly one of the most popular events of all time,” Ken Hanscom, the chief operating officer of TicketManager, told The Associated Press in an interview.
His Los Angeles-based company does not buy or sell Olympic tickets, but manages tickets for corporate clients, several of which are major Olympic sponsors.
Hanscom said he follows ticketing patterns for every major event and estimates that 80-90% of Japan residents who applied for tickets could get nothing.
“I’m interested in seeing what the reaction is and how the organizing committee addresses this,” Hanscom said. “It’s good news for the demand, and bad news on the ticket side and the public.”
Tokyo’s organizing committee was unable Thursday to say how many Japan residents got tickets, and it’s unclear if — or when — it will disclose the overall numbers. Organizers will run a second ticketing phase where the odds will probably be even worse.
Japanese media immediately began reporting about disheartened fans. A completely unscientific AP survey of a few fans showed one ticket awarded in 15 application attempts. The millions who failed got this message in email from Tokyo organizers.
“Thank you for your interest in purchasing Tokyo 2020 tickets. The demand for tickets was incredibly high, and unfortunately, you were not awarded any of the tickets you requested in the lottery.”
Simple math explains the supply and demand crunch.
Tokyo organizers say that 7.5 million residents of Japan registered to apply for tickets through the lottery system. Extrapolating from the 2012 London Olympic lottery, Hanscom estimates that Tokyo organizers may have received 70-85 million individual ticket requests. This could be at least 10 times more than what’s available. Maybe more.
Organizers estimate there are 7.8 million tickets for all Olympic events, but 20-30% of those are for distribution outside Japan where buyers could face the same problems and end up paying more.
Buyers outside Japan must get tickets from Authorized Ticket Resellers, companies appointed by national Olympic committees. They were authorized to begin sales on Thursday.
The reseller for the United States is CoSport, which also handles sales in Australia, Jordan and several European countries. Cartan is the reseller for much of Latin America including Mexico.
Resellers are allowed to charge a 20% handling fee on every ticket. They can also use a generous currency exchange rate, and often package desirable tickets with top hotels that charge way over the usual going rate during the Olympics.
Ticket prices for buyers in Japan vary greatly and are listed in the competition section on the organizers’ website.
The opening ceremony on July 24 features the most expensive ticket — 300,000 yen ($2,700). The most expensive ticket for the closing ceremony is 220,000 yen ($2,000).
Even with the soaring demand, many venues could still wind up with hundreds of empty seats that are typically set aside for International Olympic Committee officials, corporate sponsors, and local dignitaries. Often they don’t show up while angry fans line up outside without tickets.
“I expect there will be a problem in Tokyo,” Hanscom said. “The industry figure is that 40% of tickets that sponsors buy go in the trash,” he said. He said the problem was acute for the Olympics and World Cup.
“Every Olympics you have a new group of people running ticketing,” he said. “And you have new technology. So you’re always scrambling to put the process together.”
Even athletes could have a tough time landing many tickets for family members and friends.
All athletes can get two tickets for each session in which they compete. These tickets are sold by the organizing committee to national Olympic committees for distribution. For swimming, it’s only one. In addition, some national Olympic committees pass on added tickets to athletes.
“The United States Olympic Committee has confirmed it will continue its program of supplying Team USA athletes with two complimentary tickets for each event they compete in,” the USOC told AP in a statement. The USOC said this was in addition to tickets coming from the organizing committee.
Hanscom pointed out that “many countries don’t make the same gesture, and many athletes who qualify late have added problems.”
Given the shortage, scalping is sure to be a big problem, as it is at every Olympics and soccer World Cup.
The ticketing system for the Olympics and soccer’s World Cup is murky, allowing for abuse, anger, and confusion with tickets often appearing in the hands of high-ranking officials.
Three years ago at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, International Olympic Committee member Patrick Hickey of Ireland was arrested on suspicion of ticket scalping. He is suspended from the IOC, but remains a member and has denied any wrongdoing. This was not the first time that a high-ranking member of the IOC or FIFA — soccer’s governing body — was implicated in profiteering on the black market.
Hanscom predicted a “vibrant secondary market” will appear despite a law that went into force a few days ago in Japan that prohibits ticket scalping with the penalty of a 1 million yen ($9,100) fine and a one-year jail term — or both.
However, the law has a large loophole and does not apply to tickets distributed for free or given away as gifts, or tickets without a purchaser’s name. This could apply to many tickets coming from the IOC, the 200 national Olympic committees, or some major Olympic sponsors.
Local Japanese Olympic sponsors have paid over $3 billion in sponsorship fees, and also sure to get a slice of tickets before they hit the public market.
“What I always say is that tickets are temptation,” Hanscom said. “It’s going to be challenging to enforce sales that happen internationally. I would expect there to be a large market that’s outside the rules and regulations. These types of rules are not going to constrict the biggest brokers who have been doing this for 20 years.”