By Randy Norman
Boxing fans around the world may be disappointed come May 5th, as one of the most anticipated fights of the year could be at risk of being canceled. Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Álvarez were scheduled for a middleweight title bout in May – a rematch that many are looking forward to, in light of their fight last September which ended in a contentious draw. However on Friday, the NSAC (Nevada State Athletic Commission) ruled that Canelo Álvarez will suffer a temporary suspension for testing positive on two accounts for the substance clenbuterol.
Clenbuterol is an extremely strong substance that increases metabolism and helps burn fat while retaining lean muscle. For these reasons, the substance is a common performance enhancement drug used by bodybuilders and athletes alike. However clenbuterol is not only used by athletes, the substance is also very widespread in the meat industry as it can be used as a growth steroid for livestock. While clenbuterol is illegal in the United States, it is very common in other countries such as China and Mexico, where laws regulating meat production are not as strict. Canelo Álvarez, a Mexican fighter, claims that the positive test results stemmed from eating contaminated meat. While Golovkin and his camp believe that Álvarez intentionally injected the substance, Álvarez’s claims are not necessarily implausible.
The ingestion of clenbuterol by athletes has been a recurrent issue for over a decade. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, in efforts to eliminate the possibility of athletes consuming contaminated meats, China prohibited their athletes from eating meat that was not prepared by designated chefs. Also, in 2011 at the U17 FIFA World Cup held in Mexico, over half of the athletes who competed in the tournament tested positive for clenbuterol (Sidiki, Connors, Krstic, & Lee, 2016). Even the NFL has had experience with athletes testing positive for the banned substance. In light of the NFL’s decision to begin playing games internationally, in destinations including Mexico City, the league issued a memo to players, advising them to be conscious of the foods that they are consuming as the risk of contamination is higher in foreign countries.
In a statement issued to ESPN, Golden Boy Promotions spokesman Stefan Freidman reported, “Over his career, Canelo has tested clean more than 90 times and would never intentionally take a banned substance” (Rafael, 2018, para. 9). Intentional or not, Álvarez will have a hearing with the NSAC on April 10th, where the board will question Álvarez and decide whether or not to extend his suspension.
Rafael, D. (2018, March 28) Canelo Alvarez to have April 10 hearing as Gennady Golovkin rematch in jeopardy. ESPN. Retrieved from http://www.espn.com/boxing/story/_/id/22889219/canelo-alvarez-temporarily-suspended-nevada-state-athletic-commission
Sidiki, A., Connors, R., Krstic, Z., Lee, J. (2016) Feeding the athlete. SBNation. Retrieved from https://www.sbnation.com/a/2016-olympics-rio-food-athletes/steroids