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Pernell Whitaker Enters Rehab Unit

March 5, 1998

TOTOWA, N.J. (AP) _ Pernell Whitaker has entered a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center after reportedly testing positive for drugs last week.

The rehabilitation has forced the postponement of Whitaker’s title fight against WBA welterweight champion Ike Quartey in Las Vegas on April 25, Main Events, Whitaker’s promoter said in a statement on Thursday.

Whitaker, 34, has won world titles six times since turning pro after winning a gold meal in the 1984 Olympics.

Whitaker made no statement in a press release issued by Main Events. However, he requested that his privacy and that of his family be respected while he receives treatment at the undisclosed rehab center.

``In the 20 years we have been involved in this business, no fighter has meant more to us personally and professionally than Pernell,″ said promoter Dino Duva, who heads Main Events. ``He is so much more than just a fighter to us. He is a great friend and a member of our family. We will do everything we can to help him get well.″

The Virginian-Pilot reported in a story Thursday that Whitaker’s co-manager, Shelly Finkel, said he was informed by Whitaker’s lawyer that the boxer failed a drug test last week. A second source, not identified by the paper, confirmed the positive result.

The lawyer, Pat English, however, said it was too early to make any statement about the test.

``I don’t have information as of yet,″ English said. ``We’re waiting it out to see what the situation is.″

Whitaker faces an automatic six-month suspension for a positive test.

Whitaker was suspended after a positive test for cocaine following his victory over Andrei Pestriaev on Oct. 17. Whitaker and English argued the test by the Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Commission was flawed and convinced the WBA not to recognize the suspension.

Whitaker submitted to a random drug test last week under terms of the settlement that lifted that suspension.

Finkel said Whitaker took the test last Thursday and two samples were taken. He also gave two samples in a separate test as part of his prefight physical. It was unclear which test had the positive result.

Finkel said he was awaiting the results of the second sample. When the first sample tests positive, the second sample is tested to ensure accuracy.

The commission, while sticking by its test results, agreed to lift the suspension as long as Whitaker agreed to random drug testing.

In addition to the six-month suspension, WBA rules would ban Whitaker from WBA title fights and rankings for two years.

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