WORLD champion boxer Scott Harrison has been arrested on suspicion of possessing drugs less than a week before a major title defence.
The 28-year-old Scot was picked up by police in Balloch, Dunbartonshire, early on Sunday morning after reportedly being found in possession of a controlled substance.
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Harrison is training to defend his WBO featherweight world title against the Guyanese Gairy St Clair in Belfast on Saturday.
He will face a routine doping test this week and could be stripped of his boxing licence if he fails, a spokesman for the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC) said.
Harrison's manager, Frank Maloney, insisted the boxer would defend his title despite being arrested. "The fight will go ahead. As far as I know, Scott has not been charged, but is helping police with their inquiries," he said. "I spoke to Scott and his father, Peter, yesterday and they said he was training over the weekend and will be out running this morning."
Harrison's solicitor, Massimo Franchi, said: "There are lots of reasons people are taken into custody. It's now up to the procurator fiscal to decide if there's any reason to prosecute."
The promoter Frank Warren, who organised the weekend bout, to be screened on ITV1, is understood to be at his wit's end.
Simon Block, the BBBC's general secretary, said Harrison would face a routine doping test for recreational and performance-enhancing drugs.
He added that, while the BBBC could fine, suspend or even revoke the licence of a boxer following "behaviour considered detrimental to boxing", no such action would be taken against Harrison until charges were heard.
He said: "Scott Harrison will have to undergo a pre-contest physical on Friday. As it is a championship contest, he will also be dope-tested.
"Clearly, conviction of criminal offences is something we would deal with. But Mr Harrison has not been convicted, nor has he gone to trial."
The arrest is the latest in a string of run-ins with the police for Scotland's troubled, but highly successful, boxer. In April, he was arrested along with two other men after a stand-off at a Glasgow pub in which police reportedly had to use tear gas to flush him out. The incident prompted boxing officials to order an immediate medical test for Harrison, fearing the gas may have made him unfit to fight.
Last year, the boxer was banned from every pub, club and hotel in East Kilbride town centre after a series of incidents, including one in which a bar stool was thrown at a pub gantry and another involving a fight with seven nightclub doormen.
Eliot Taylor, the manager of Lomond Park Hotel pub, where Harrison was drinking before Sunday's arrest, said the boxer had been well-behaved.
"He was in the pub drinking. Then police came up to him and searched him, put cuffs on him and took him away. Apparently someone had phoned complaining about him. Obviously, if he was found with drugs, we can't condone that, but he wasn't causing trouble at the time," he said.
Will Sturgeon, of the athletic training company Will Power, said drinking before a bout was highly unusual for a boxer.
He said: "It is not good training practice, but with a week before the fight, he might have been on his rest week."
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