The BBC is considering a demand from Tyson Fury to be taken off its Sports Personality of the Year award shortlist after the heavyweight champion took to social media to say he didn’t want any “verification” from awards and implored his supporters not to vote for him.
Fury was one of six athletes shortlisted this week for the award, alongside Lewis Hamilton, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Stuart Broad, Jordan Henderson and Hollie Doyle.
The WBC heavyweight champion wrote on his Instagram account: “This is a message for bbcsport and their SPOTY award – please take me off your list as I’m the people’s champion and have no need for verification or any awards.
“I know who I am and what I’ve done in the sport. I have the love of the people which means more to me than all the awards in the world. To anyone who supports me, don’t vote.”
Fury’s inclusion had sparked controversy given he has previously served a two-year ban for taking cocaine and is under active investigation by the UK Anti-Doping Agency following allegations that a member of Tyson Fury’s team offered a farmer £25,000 to provide a false defence after the heavyweight champion failed a drugs test in 2015.
Fury and his cousin Hughie, both blamed their positive tests for nandrolone on eating uncastrated wild boar or ingesting contaminated supplements – citing two statements from the Preston farmer Martin Carefoot saying he had given them the meat in their defence. But in March Carefoot changed his story, telling the Mail on Sunday that he provided two false statements after being offered a financial inducement by a member of Fury’s team to lie. Fury’s subsequent promoter, Frank Warren, described the allegations as “total bullshit”.
Hi this is Tyson fury the gypsy king, this is a message for the @bbcsport and there spoty award, please take me off your list as I’m the people’s champion and have no need for verification or any awards. I know who I am & what iv done in sport. I have the love of the people… pic.twitter.com/iwNYblTZG4— TYSON FURY (@Tyson_Fury) December 2, 2020
It is only the second time in the history of the Awards that a shortlisted athlete has asked to be removed from the shortlist. In 2015 the Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford wrote a private letter to the BBC because he felt uncomfortable being part of the ceremony with Fury – who earlier that year had claimed that “there are only three things that need to be accomplished before Devil comes home. One of them is homosexuality being legal in countries, one of them is abortion and the other is paedophilia.”
Rutherford, whose sister is gay, was eventually persuaded to go to the ceremony after his letter was leaked. But in his autobiography he admitted he wished he hadn’t changed his mind. “I didn’t enjoy it one bit,” he wrote. “I turned up late and left as soon as I possibly could.”