Just two months before the most anticipated boxing match of the year, Canelo Alvarez has tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug Clenbuterol. But the May 5 rematch between Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin could still be on track.
“I think we’re all hopeful the fight can still go on, but I can’t really comment until we have more details,” Tom Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter, said in an interview Monday.
According to Golden Boy, Alvarez tested positive for “trace levels” of the drug, which is often used to treat asthma but is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of banned substances because it also helps burn fat and build muscle. The amount was consistent, the promoter said, with “meat contamination that has impacted dozens of athletes in Mexico over the last years.”
“As Daniel Eichner, Director of SMRTL, the WADA-accredited lab that conducted the tests stated in his letter today, ‘These values are all within the range of what is expected from meat contamination,’” Golden Boy said in a statement.
Alvarez, the Mexican-born superstar and one of the sport’s most dominant champions in recent years, actually failed two drug tests, one on Feb. 17 and another on Feb. 20, according to Bob Bennett, the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Bennett said the positive tests automatically triggered an independent investigation by the state’s governing body for the sport. While Bennett said it’s too early to speculate on possible outcomes and any potential repercussions that Alvarez might face, Bennett said investigators would take into consideration whether Alvarez intentionally used the drug or if he might have accidentally ingested bad meat.
Golden Boy notified the Golovkin camp and the Nevada State Athletic Commission of the positive test. Loeffler said the two boxers have been undergoing regular testing for the past month in anticipation of their May bout. Loeffler said he had just heard the news earlier Monday and wasn’t sure what exactly needed to happen for the fight to continue as planned.
“It’s never a good thing when there’s a positive test,” he said, “but we’re going to rely on the athletic commission and the sanctioning bodies.”
Loeffler said because Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) is such a hard puncher, the 35-year old fighter has always lobbied for strict testing to ensure a level playing field. “That’s what these tests are for,” the promoter said. “Hopefully it doesn’t affect the fight. We just have to see what the ruling parties say.”
In a statement, Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) said he planned to immediately move his training camp from Mexico to the United States to resume preparations for the May 5 showdown.
“I am an athlete who respects the sport and this surprises me and bothers me because it had never happened to me,” Alvarez said. “I will submit to all the tests that require me to clarify this embarrassing situation and I trust that at the end the truth will prevail.”
After more than two years of failed negotiations between two of the sport’s best pound-for-pound boxers, the fighters finally stepped into the ring last Sept. 16 in Las Vegas, fighting to a controversial draw. Despite the disappointing result, the fight was otherwise a huge success, generating about 1.3 million pay-per-view buys and a gate of more than $27 million, reportedly the third biggest in boxing history.