I want to believe Canelo Alvarez. I want to believe he made a stupid mistake and ate a steak without knowing where it came from when he knew he was subject to being drug tested.
I want his fight against Gennady Golovkin to go on as scheduled on May 5 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It’s one of the best fights that can be made in boxing, and it’s a fight I’ve campaigned for years to see made.
I don’t want to see it, though, if the results of drug tests given to Alvarez on Feb. 17 and Feb. 20 prove that he’s a drug cheat.
If the Mexican superstar intentionally, knowingly ingested Clenbuterol in an effort to add lean muscle mass to his body, the fight should be canceled and Alvarez should be fined and suspended.
There are more questions than answers, though, after news broke Monday that Alvarez tested positive for Clenbuterol. Alvarez claimed the presence of Clenbuterol, which is banned at all times in an athlete’s system under the World Anti-Doping Agency code, came as the result of eating contaminated meat while he was in Jalisco, Mexico.
Golden Boy Promotions announced the test result in a news release on Monday, along with a portion of a quote from Dr. Daniel Eichner, the president and director of the laboratory that tested the samples.
“These values are all within the range of what is expected from meat contamination,” Eichner said in the release.
That quote, though, was taken by Golden Boy from the anti-doping report it received from the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA). The quote included one additional sentence, that was not in the press release, in which Eichner said, “Further investigation is needed to make a final determination.”
Alvarez also released a statement, undoubtedly crafted by lawyers, in which he said he was embarrassed. But if he wants us to believe him, he has to do far more than to release a prepared statement written for him by skilled publicists under the direction of a highly paid attorney.
If I had to bet, my money is on the fight going on. Alvarez is being tested more frequently now, and if he passes all of the tests, it would be a step toward proving he didn’t mean to cheat.
But it’s only a step and just passing future tests doesn’t prove he didn’t intend to dope in the past.
Alvarez is a wealthy man who has made tens of millions in his career. He knows the requirements of a drug-testing protocol and seems wiser than to have made a simple oversight.
So he should prove to the public how this drug got into his system. It is a drug that Victor Conte of BALCO fame readily admits is a “very potent and effective drug for a boxer.”
If a boxer took Clenbuterol regularly and wasn’t detected, it would no doubt improve his/her performance.
There are pictures all over the internet now showing Alvarez as far more buff and muscular than he was a year ago. That’s circumstantial evidence, at best, and doesn’t prove anything except in the court of public opinion, where he’s already been judged guilty by many. Multiple promoters not connected with the rematch have reached out to me and said they believe Alvarez intentionally used Clenbuterol.
That’s easy to dismiss as the professional jealousy and pettiness that for some reason is inherent in boxing.
But I reached out to several other people who understand drug testing and the fight game and who have no axe to grind in this case. Each of them said they believe Alvarez knowingly took Clenbuterol.
Alvarez should provide evidence if he wants to mount an affirmative defense. He needs to answer questions and give proof publicly. He should go beyond what is required by the athletic commission to prove his innocence. Answer questions like these:
• When do you suspect you ate the meat that resulted in the positive tests?
• Where was the meat purchased or at what restaurant did you eat? Provide receipts.
• What is your normal procedure for purchasing food when you are in training camp, and did it vary in this instance?
• What supplements are you taking and can you provide receipts for each of them?
I tend to believe Alvarez for a variety of reasons, including that the amount of Clenbuterol in his system was low to begin with and decreased significantly the second time, even though his urine was more concentrated the second time and thus theoretically would show a higher threshold of Clenbuterol.
But just as likely, it is possible that he took the drug knowingly sometime earlier and it was nearly all out of his system when he was tested. Only an investigation will prove which of the two it was. Just being trace amounts in and of itself proves nothing.
Alvarez needs to be as open and forthright as possible. He’s passed many tests, probably more than 100 in his career, and that works in his favor. But Lance Armstrong passed more than 300 and nobody was a bigger cheat than him. He knew how to beat the system and did it successfully for years.
Alvarez has to prove he made an innocent and unknowing mistake if he wants to regain the good reputation he once held, and the respect he commanded from his peers, from media and, most importantly, his fans.
A proactive and public defense by Alvarez would go a long way toward clearing this up.
I badly want to see this fight as I suspect millions of boxing fans do.
I just don’t want to see it if one of the fighters is artificially enhanced. So, Mr. Alvarez, prove to us that is not the case.
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