Wilder was scheduled to make a mandatory defense of his WBC Heavyweight title against Povetkin in mid-2016. The negotiations for the fight were contentious and the bout went to purse bids. WOB won the purse bid in the amount of $7.15M. Though the purses were decided, there still needed to be a final BA and once again the parties had trouble coming to an agreement. One of the big points of contention was the language over whether the promoters would be required to "produce" their respective fighters for the fight.
Eventually the WBC was brought in to mediate and ultimately drafted the BA. The final BA provided that WBC rules would govern the "event in its entirety and shall be binding on all parties . . . [i]n the event the Parties incur any dispute or controversy with respect to this contract, all parties understand and agree to be bound by the Rules and Regulations of the WBC." The WBC's rules regarding PEDs state that "[b]oxers . . . should not take, ingest, or have administered . . . any substance . . . that may enhance or reduce the boxer's performance." The rules leave the WBC with sole discretion to determine penalties and provide that they do not "adhere to a 'strict liability' standard in anti-doping matters."
The parties also entered into an Escrow Agreement (EA) for Wilder's purse, which is standard in international title fights. The EA provided that the funds would be disbursed to Wilder after the fight if he submitted an affidavit stating the fight happened along with a copy of an article from www.fightnews.com. Similarly, if the fight did not happen, WOB would get the escrow funds if they submitted an affidavit to that effect, plus an article from www.fightnews.com. The escrow agent was forbidden from disbursing the money if either party objected to the disbursement in "good faith". If the objection was not in "good faith" there was a liquidated damages penalty of $2.5M.
The parties agreed to VADA testing before the fight. Povetkin's first three tests came back negative but his fourth test on April 27, 2016 came back positive at 70 nanograms per milliliter for Meldonium. VADA informed the WBC on May 13, 2016 of the positive test and the WBC announced that they would conduct "an in-depth investigation of this matter." Meldonium was placed on WADA's Prohibited List on January 1, 2016. However, in a June 30, 2016 notice, WADA stated that if the concentration in a sample were found to be less than one microgram per milliliter, there would be a finding of no fault for any sample taken between January 1 and September 30, 2016. Povetkin's sample was below one microgram per milliliter.
Wilder was in London preparing for the bout when Povetkin's positive test was made public. Wilder's lawyer, John Wirt, emailed the WBC on May 14, stating that Wilder considered WOB and Povetkin in breach of the BA. On May 15, the WBC announced that they were postponing the fight and would continue to investigate the case. Wirt emailed the escrow agent on the same day and objected to any disbursement of the escrow funds. Wilder's side considered the fight cancelled, not postponed, and stated so in the press. Ultimately, in June 2016 both Wilder and WOB/Povetkin would file suits against each other. Wilder sued for breach of both the BA and the EA. WOB/Povetkin sued for breach of the BA and EA, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and also defamation.
The WBC allowed Wilder to make an optional defense against Chris Arreola on July 16, 2016. Wilder won but broke his arm and tore a bicep in the fight. He was sidelined until January 2017. On August 17, 2016, the WBC announced its ruling on Povetkin's failed drug test. It stated it had "called the Bout off . . . until the ongoing investigation  concluded." The WBC ruled that it was not possible to "ascertain that Mr. Povetkin ingested Meldonium after January 1, 2016." This ruling was presumably based on WADA's statement that samples below one microgram were "no fault" findings if collected between January 1, 2016 and September 30, 2016.
Wilder appealed the WBC's ruling and the WBC then stated that if Wilder prevailed at trial, the WBC would afford Povetkin the opportunity to show that the trial's result was not based on a finding that he ingested Meldonium after January 1, 2016.
On December 23, 2016, Judge Gorenstein ordered that the trial be limited to one issue - whether Povetkin ingested Meldonium on or after January 1, 2016. In February 2017, the trial was held and after hearing expert testimony from both sides, the jury found that Povetkin had ingested Meldonium after January 1, 2016. Povetkin/WOB filed a motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law but the motion was denied on April 26, 2017.
In the meantime, Povetkin had a bout for the interim WBC title scheduled for December 17, 2016. The bout was postponed, once again due to a positive drug test, this time for Ostarine. The WBC then issued a new ruling on March 2, 2017, suspending Povetkin indefinitely in acknowledgement of both the jury's verdict and his positive test for Ostarine.
Povetkin appealed the WBC's ruling and on November 7, 2017. Once again the WBC flip-flopped and stated that "notwithstanding the specific finding of the jury in the New York Litigation, the WBC continues to adhere to its ruling of August 17, 2016 that it is not possible to ascertain that Mr. Povetkin ingested Meldonium after January 1, 2016." The WBC amended Povetkin's indefinite suspension to a one year suspension from the date of his positive test for Ostarine.
Both Wilder and Povetkin/WOB filed summary judgment motions after the conclusion of trial in this case in late 2017.
The Court had previously stayed WOB's defamation claims and did not opine on them here.
See the opinion below: