Heavyweight boxer Tony Tubbs tested positive for cocaine after beating Orlin Norris in Santa Monica last week, the State Athletic Commission said Wednesday.
According to the commission, Tubbs failed two post-fight drug tests the night of the fight. Both were positive for cocaine.
Tubbs won a split decision over Norris Nov. 21 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, in a 12-round bout. The two were fighting for Norris' North American Boxing Federation heavyweight championship.
Norris is likely to have the decision reversed by the commission, but there was some confusion Wednesday as to whether he would get his title back.
"In a case like this, when a winner flunks a drug test, the commission normally changes the decision . . . usually it's changed to a disqualification victory," said Don Muse, assistant executive officer of the commission.
Muse also said that Tubbs, who was briefly the World Boxing Assn. heavyweight champion in 1985, automatically was on indefinite suspension.
Joe Sayatovich, Norris' manager, said he expects to have the North American Boxing Federation, the North American federation of the World Boxing Council, give Norris his title back.
"One of the NABF people told me today there'll be a Dec. 6 meeting, and that he thinks the fight will be declared a no-contest, which would mean Orlin gets his title back," Sayatovich said. "How can they do anything else? The guy beat Orlin illegally."
But Dean Lohuis, the NABF supervisor at the Tubbs-Norris fight, said that the title would probably be declared vacant, and that Norris would have to fight a designated opponent to get it back.
Tubbs admitted Wednesday to a long-standing cocaine problem.
"I am seeking professional help for this problem immediately," Tubbs said, in a statement released by his manager, Harold Smith.
"I realize I can't beat this alone, and as a result I am going to put my career on hold until I have control of my life, and that can only happen once I get control of this disease.
"I want to apologize to my family and to my manager, Harold Smith, who put his heart and soul into my return and my future. I let everybody down and I deeply regret my actions."
Smith seemed as shaken as Tubbs.
"When the commission called to advise me of the test results, I was devastated," he said. "It is unbelievable to me to think that Tony has allowed drugs to interfere with the opportunities available to him as a result of his beating Norris."
Norris, who boxes for the First Fighter Squadron Boxing Club in Campo, Calif., was hopeful a victory over Tubbs would position him for a 1991 bout with Mike Tyson.
Sayatovich said his fighter was "ecstatic" over news of Tubbs' test results.
Muse said that in California, urine samples are taken of participants in all world title fights and all NABF championship fights. Two samples are taken from each boxer immediately after a bout.
"The amazing part of all this is that Tony knew he'd be tested after the fight," Muse said.
Tubbs, 31, was once a celebrated amateur boxer in Cincinnati, and a national amateur champion in 1979. Six years later he was the World Boxing Assn. heavyweight champion, when he beat Greg Page in Buffalo, N.Y.