Conor Benn apologises for ‘bitter’ handling of drug-test saga

Conor Benn has apologised for his ‘bitter’ handling of his ongoing drug-test saga.

Benn, 26, failed two drug tests in the lead-up to his scheduled fight with Chris Eubank Jr in October, leading to the cancellation of the bout. Benn has maintained his innocence ever since, and the WBC has cleared the Briton of ‘intentional doping’. However, the British Boxing Board of Control stripped Benn of his licence, and the welterweight was suspended by UK Anti-Doping in April.

Speaking to Seconds Out on Thursday (4 May), Benn – son of British boxing icon Nigel – apologised for his reaction to the episode.

“I was a little bit bitter towards the public, I was a little bit bitter towards the boxing community,” Benn said. “I was angry. I’m emotional – I can’t help it, people know I’m emotional. It’s just the way I am.

“I’m an emotional guy, I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I say what I feel like I want to say. Maybe it wasn’t the right thing, maybe the way I dealt with it wasn’t right; I know it wasn’t right.

“I apologise to the public. They deserved more from me, but in my head I’m bitter and angry, because I’m seeing this every day: ‘He’s guilty, he’s guilty, that’s it, he’s done it.’

“I responded with a cold shoulder, and I never should’ve responded like that, but how do you tell a 26-year-old how to respond? [...] It was a hard period, I didn’t deal with it great, but I apologise. I do regret the way I felt – the bitterness and the anger.”

Following the cancellation of October’s planned bout, Eubank Jr went on to box Liam Smith in January and suffered a TKO defeat. The Britons are now scheduled to clash again in June.

At the time of his failed drug tests, Benn was accused by some of trying to ‘harm’ Eubank Jr, but the 26-year-old told Seconds Out: “I would rather lose a fight than seriously hurt someone, because I don’t think I could live with that.

Chris Eubank Jr (left) and Conor Benn ahead of their cancelled catchweight fight (Steven Paston/PA) (PA Wire)
Chris Eubank Jr (left) and Conor Benn ahead of their cancelled catchweight fight (Steven Paston/PA) (PA Wire)

“I’d rather lose a fight than know I’ve put someone in a coma who’s got family, because I’ve seen the damage; I’ve seen it cause pain, I’ve seen it hurt people.”

Benn also said in recent months that he had no intention of fighting in the UK in the near future, but he retracted that suggestion on Thursday.

“I’d like to fight back home. Me saying in an interview, ‘I have no plans on returning to England immediately,’ I take that back. That’s my home. There’s a lot of supporters there, and I’m not turning my back on them.”

Click here to subscribe to The Independent’s Sport YouTube channel for all the latest sports videos.