British boxer Billy Joe Saunders suspended

Aug. 21, 2008, 3:56 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) British boxer Billy Joe Saunders has been suspended by the country's boxing authorities, the British Olympic Association said Thursday.

The association did not give any reason for the suspension, but British media reported it was because of allegations of "lewd behavior" during a pre-Olympic training camp in France. Saunders faces a hearing in front of the Amateur Boxing Association.

Saunders, an 18-year-old welterweight, went out of the Olympics in the round of 16 on Aug. 14, beaten by Carlos Banteaux Suarez of Cuba. He flew home Monday.

Britain's Daily Mail reported the allegations related to a video showing Saunders "confronting" a Frenchwoman in a sexually explicit manner. It said the video was posted to the Internet but has since been removed.

Terry Edwards, head boxing coach for the British team, said the allegations were "on the whole unfounded" but that he would not address them in detail until he returned from Beijing.

"Right now, I have three boxers who are fighting to win gold medals for Team GB, and I will not allow anything to distract my lads from what they need to do in the ring," Edwards said.

The three - James DeGale, Tony Jeffries and David Price - are guaranteed at least bronze medals and will fight on Friday to try to progress further.

The British Olympic Association said it was "disappointed" that the suspension had been announced in the middle of the Olympics when the alleged incident happened months ago.

"We are frustrated that our athletes and the boxing coaching team will have to deal with this added pressure and distraction at this point in the Games. Nobody involved with boxing should be distracting the team at this time," said Simon Clegg, the team's chef de mission.

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