Believe him or not, Canelo Alvarez's vow to be more cautious rings hollow

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
Canelo Alvarez tested positive for the banned substance Clenbuterol in February. (Getty)

Canelo Alvarez and his team spent an hour Tuesday trying to convince the public that his positive drug tests on Feb. 17 and Feb. 21 for Clenbuterol that forced the cancellation of his May 5 bout with Gennady Golovkin were the result of eating contaminated meat.

Attorney Ricardo Cestero said Alvarez had already supplied credit-card receipts and bank statements to the Nevada Athletic Commission in an attempt to prove that Alvarez had eaten meat in Mexico prior to the positive tests, thus backing his contaminated-meat defense.

Alvarez strongly maintained his innocence and said he feels “powerless” because of his inability to put on the Golovkin fight as scheduled.

“I want to prove without a doubt that I have never intentionally ingested Clenbuterol,” Alvarez said. “I have nothing to hide and I want to be open and transparent through this process. …. I have never taken illegal substances and this is no different.”

For those who believed in Alvarez, or wanted to believe in him, Tuesday’s news conference in Los Angeles provided the assurance that it was a mistake that could have happened to anyone.

For those skeptical of Alvarez’s claims, though, no solid evidence was provided that would have changed one’s mind.

Dr. Miguel Ángel Nazul, the vice president of the Mexican Federation of Sports Medicine, said the levels that were found in Alvarez’s system were consistent with having eaten contaminated meat.

In response to a question from Yahoo Sports, though, Nazul conceded that currently there is no test that can reliably discriminate between intentional and unintentional ingestion of Clenbuterol. Nazul also said researchers are attempting to develop a hair analysis test that can reliably do that, but it is not ready yet.

“This is a well-known issue and it is very, very difficult to prove what those values are, like you had asked, whether it’s been tapering off or not,” Nazul said. “… At this particular moment, it is almost impossible to clarify how it was ingested.”

Hair analysis is reliable to distinguish between intentional and unintentional use in some substances now but not in others. It is of no more value currently than urine in determining that regarding Clenbuterol.

Alvarez pulled out of the fight, as Golden Boy president Eric Gomez explained, because there would not be enough time between fight night and his April 18 disciplinary hearing. Also, Gomez noted that Nevada’s rules mandate a suspension, so it was unlikely Alvarez would be able to fight.

By withdrawing now, Alvarez gave Golovkin and his team time to put together and market a new fight. The Nevada Athletic Commission put out an agenda item for a Thursday meeting that requested May 5 at the MGM Grand for GGG Boxing, so it is likely the fight will be moved from T-Mobile to the MGM.

Gennady Golovkin works out during a media event on March 20, 2018, in Big Bear, California. (Getty Images)

“I am looking forward to returning to Las Vegas for my 20th title defense and headlining my first Cinco de Mayo event on May 5,” Golovkin said in response to Alvarez’s news conference. “It is time for less drama and more fighting.”

Golovkin was highly critical of Alvarez after news broke of his positive tests, and on Tuesday, Alvarez took the opportunity to take a swipe at his rival. He was asked his reaction about Golovkin’s harsh words and instead of answering diplomatically, he suggested Golovkin was somehow afraid.

“What Golovkin and his team says doesn’t bother me at all,” Alvarez said. “They’re not doctors or experts. I don’t pay attention to them. It sounds more to me like an excuse or they’re afraid.”

The sad part of all this is that it’s just another example of how boxing shoots itself in the foot when things seem to be going well.

Alvarez has been drug-tested often enough – he claimed at the news conference Tuesday to have passed more than 90 tests without a failure, prior to the Clenbuterol positives – that he should have done far more than he did to prevent such a possibility.

His vow that he will take “increased precautions” to make certain such a thing never happens again rings hollow, because he had the financial wherewithal to make certain nothing happened this time around.

Alvarez said he is committed to fighting Golovkin as soon as possible after he becomes eligible, assuming he is suspended by the Nevada commission at the April 18 meeting. Nevada typically gives a one-year suspension for a drug in the class of Clenbuterol, but with cooperation, that can be cut in half.

So, if he gets a one-year suspension that is reduced to six months, he’ll be eligible to fight as early as Aug. 18, six months after the first positive test.

Still, it remains to be seen how the public will react to Alvarez. Some in Mexico were angry at him after the first Golovkin fight, when he didn’t immediately say yes when asked if he would take a rematch.

But by at least pulling out, letting the promotion move on and apologizing to most of those involved, he’s taken the first baby steps toward rehabilitation.

The biggest thing he can do, though, is to be as transparent and open as possible and, when given the chance to fight Golovkin again, to put on the best match possible.

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