The 29-year-old also intends to sue the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission (MSAC) for loss of earnings, after his planned fight with Demetrius Andrade on 20 October was scrapped.
“Because of the mental anguish brought about by this case and out of respect for the WBO, Billy-Joe will with a heavy heart relinquish his world title, whilst this issue is in the process of being resolved,” his promoter, Frank Warren, said in a statement.
“Legal proceedings will then be issued against the MSAC following the Supreme Court hearing. The MSAC in their refusal to grant a licence to Billy-Joe have benefitted his scheduled opponent, Andrade, who hails from nearby Rhode Island and who will now fight for a vacant title against the next ranked Namibian Walter Kautondokwa.”
Immediately after the announcement, the WBO put out a statement in which the organisation’s president, Francisco Valcárcel, confirmed Andrade’s fight with Kautondonkwa will be for the world title. Valcárcel also reccommendced that Saunders is banned for six months,
“B.J. Saunders has voluntarily vacated the WBO Middleweight Title, and publicly apologized for his violation of the Massachusetts Athletic Commission’s anti-doping regulations,” the statement read.
“Therefore, the clash between Demetrius Andrade and Walter Kautondonkwa scheduled for October 20th will now be for the vacant World Crown”.
“Also, I will recommend to the WBO Executive Committee that Saunders receives a six month suspension for his transgression”.
Saunders’ decision was announced by his promoter after he had been refused a boxing license by the MSAC earlier this week.
Saunders returned an adverse finding in a Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (Vada) test in August. Warren said that the substance — the stimulant stimulant oxilofrine — was a “common decongestant nasal spray”.
Under World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) and UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) rules, oxilofrine is only banned in competition, meaning a fighter is only in breach of rules if the substance is detected in his stem on the day of the a bout.
However it is prohibited at all times by Vada, with the Massachusetts Commission therefore denying him a licence to box.