“As part of the voluntary testing programme that Canelo Álvarez insisted on ahead of his 5 May fight, one of his results came back positive for trace levels of clenbuterol, consistent with meat contamination that has impacted dozens of athletes in Mexico over the last years,” a statement released to the press read.
This is hardly the first time a clenbuterol drug test has rattled the sports world.
Track-and-field athlete Katrin Krabbe swore a doctor suggested she take clenbuterol and didn’t knowingly cheat. Despite that, she still lost her chance to compete at the 1992 Olympics and her athletic career effectively came to an end.
American swimmer Jessica Hardy blamed contaminated food supplements on her failed test. She was still slapped with a one-year ban and missed the 2008 Beijing Games.
Aussie footballers Lachie Keeffe and Josh Thomas theorised illicit drug use was the reason behind their failure but it didn’t stop the AFL from handing down a two-year ban.
Mexican boxer Erik Morales tested positive for the powerful drug and also pointed the finger at contaminated meat. He wasn’t licensed to box again for two whole years.
Noticing a trend here?
All of the above athletes failed a test, provided a reasonable explanation and were punished anyway.
Canelo, on the other hand, hasn’t even been given a slap on the wrist. Not even a minor monetary fine.
Presently, the 27-year-old pay-per-view star is still scheduled to fight Gennady ‘Triple G’ Golovkin in a middleweight championship unification bout on May 5 in Las Vegas.
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
It’s only right to point out that we cannot unequivocally say that Canelo knowingly doped.
After all, animals, including cows, have been known to be injected with the drug and beef contamination stories have popped up in several countries, including Mexico.
That being said, Canelo is still 100 per cent at fault here.
Outlined in the 156 page World Anti-Doping Agency code is an athlete’s responsibility to ensure no prohibited substances enter his or her body, whether he or she intentionally or unintentionally ingests it.
There are no two ways about it, Canelo is guilty, whether he intended to take the banned substance or not. And despite Golden Boy’s insistence that this is a non-issue, this is anything but. Clenbuterol is on the banned list for a reason.
The drug is a powerful fat burner, an effective appetite suppressant, and can greatly enhance cardiovascular fitness. Moreover, it is also commonly used among athletes in addition to other anabolic agents to help maintain muscle mass while still trimming fat.
Canelo is a world-class athlete fighting for tens of millions of dollars in prize money. If we’re to assume his story is true, his actions are reckless at best, and outright idiotic at worst.
The former multi-belt light middleweight titlist must have been aware of the aforementioned Morales case, and the possibility of contaminated meat in Mexico. Despite that, it seems no steps were made to import meat.
It doesn’t really matter, though. Because it seems Mexico’s favourite fighting son will escape this drug fiasco relatively unscathed.
It is still possible that the Nevada State Athletic Commission could hand down a serious punishment before the multi-million dollar bout, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Justin Faux is a seasoned combat sports scribe. Covering mixed martial arts and boxing since 2007, Justin has been published on NineMSN Australia, Fox Sports, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and dozens of other outlets.
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