Photos: Universum Box-Promotion
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After the WBA heavyweight world championship was surprisingly called off over the weekend in Helsinki, WBA champion Ruslan Chagaev’s promoter Universum Box-Promotion held a press conference at the InterContinental Hotel in Hamburg. Universum chief Klaus-Peter Kohl, Chagaev, German Federation (BDB) President Bodo Eckmann, Dr. Michael Ehnert (Chagaev’s doctor) and Dr. Heiner Wedemeyer of the German Liver Foundation spoke to reporters.
“Ruslan Chagaev is completely healthy according to the documents. I don’t follow the interpretation of my colleague from the Finnish lab,” said Dr Wedemeyer, who is one of the experts of the Hepatitis B in Europe and who contacted Universum independently. “It was probably done more for legal protection rather than scientific facts. There is no infectivity and Ruslan Chagaev would have without a doubt boxed for the third time [since his recovery] without danger. Mr. Chagaev has a completely normal liver function and is not considered to be ill, he is merely a bearer of the hepatitis B antigen. The German Liver Foundation will soon be issuing a separate press announcement in regard to this state of affairs. To us this is a very important subject. “
Wedemeyer, further urged all athletes to exclude the risk of contracting hepatitis with vaccinations. “We at the Liver Foundation say that every athlete should inoculate themselves against hepatitis and we have already carried out this initiative with the German Olympic team in 2008.”
Chagaev’s personal physician Dr. Michael Ehnert, from the Asklepios Klinik Hamburg-St.Georg stated, “The blood tests of Ruslan Chagaev during the last years have always remained constant, the same as they were in the 2007 fight against Nikolai Valuev under Sauerland supervision. The results from Finland do not differ from those from Germany. There is no reason that Ruslan can’t box.”
Klaus-Peter Kohl angerly lashed out at the incident in Helsinki. “Valuev is the biggest and heaviest heavyweight in the world and he is the biggest and heaviest coward in the world. He’s not only afraid of Ruslan, but also of a small prick from a vaccination needle which would give him 100% safety in his sport. One small prick for an active or passive vaccination would have been enough after the fight. He can shoot wild boars and bears, but he avoids a tiny prick? That’s why he got out with a dirty trick. He could have turned to an expert, so therefore from my view there are other reasons why this fight was called off. We will call to account the people responsible for this cancellation, but first we want to wait for the decision of the WBA at the end of the week and then weigh the judicial steps. The Finnish Federation is a small federation and this situation probably demanded too much. But Sauerland has been a promoter for a long time, longer than me, and he must make sure the rules are properly implemented. To me this is a big scandal.”
Kohl also expressed surprise that Dr Walter Wagner, the usual ring doctor used in Sauerland Event cards was not used in this promotion.
“Walter told me that he has been rejected because he doesn’t speak Finnish. It’s strange that Sauerland for the first time abroad doesn’t use the Austrian Federation supervision, but transfers the supervision to the small, inexperienced Finnish Federation. Otherwise, as in all important Sauerland Event promotions, Walter Wagner would have been the responsible ring doctor.”
BDB President Bodo Eckmann commented that there were “many formal errors, which would have been avoided because the German Federation offered help to the Finnish Association far in advance of the event. For example, with the situation at the scale the time ended up elapsing to call off a fight. I can assure that under our supervision this fight would have taken place.”
Kohl added, “Before the fight Universum Box-Promotion had at no time received a written request for further blood tests. Then after the first rumors, without being asked, we had another one done ourselves. This test had the same values as ones in preceding years. Merely the interpretation by a Finnish lab doctor was out of line. We and the Federations have known Ruslan’s blood count for many years. We have continually tested Ruslan to avoid any residual risk, and also for his sparring partners. We do not act frivolously. I think that each athlete should be vaccinated. But in any event, the fight would have been rescued if Valuev would have done this postfight vaccination or if Sauerland Event had quickly transferred the responsibility for supervision to the very experienced Austrian or German federations.”
Universum general manager Stefan Braune said “According to WBA rules a committee of three well-known doctors would meet and reach a decision. In Helsinki this didn’t happen. This is a clear breach against the guidelines of the WBA.”
WBA world champion Ruslan Chagaev stated, “After my Achilles tendon tear, Sauerland called me a faker. I was quiet because I thought it would be better to prove him wrong in the ring. This was handled very dirty and they have taken the fight from me. One cannot treat me in such a way. Everything was out there for weeks and they could have informed me of any doubt. Then on Friday there was a knock on the hotel door when I was already sleeping. My whole world collapsed. The behavior of Sauerland is not understandable. Two years ago the values were just like today and nobody at that time said anything. I will act against everybody who spreads lies about my health. I am healthy and can box. I will take on everybody.”