Canelo Alvarez to serve six-month suspension for failed drug tests

Dan RafaelESPN Senior Writer4 Minute Read

Okamoto: Suspension doesn't eliminate Alvarez-GGG fight

Brett Okamoto explains that despite being suspended for six months, Canelo Alvarez could still fight Gennady Golovkin this year.

In a 5-0 vote by the Nevada State Athletic Commission at its monthly meeting on Wednesday, Canelo Alvarez's suspension for failing two drug tests was extended to six months, the lightest punishment typically given for his kind of infraction.

Alvarez has been under temporary suspension since April 3. His much-anticipated rematch with unified middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin, scheduled for May 5 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, was canceled.

Alvarez's suspension will be lifted on Aug. 17, six months from Feb. 17, the date of his first positive drug test.

If Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) defeats late substitute Vanes Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs) on May 5 in Carson, California, the rematch with Alvarez can be rescheduled for Mexican Independence Day weekend in mid-September -- the same weekend on which they fought to a heavily disputed draw that most thought GGG won last year.

Deputy Attorney General Caroline Bateman, who represented Nevada at the hearing, told the commissioners that Alvarez and the state had reached an adjudication agreement prior to the hearing which called for the six-month ban. She told the panel that Alvarez had been "very professional" during commission executive director Bob Bennett's investigation, came to Las Vegas willingly to meet with him and had produced documents related to the case.

After Bateman was briefly questioned by commission members, Alvarez attorney Ricardo Cestero, who attended the hearing via telephone, told the commission, "We are in agreement with the proposed adjudication agreement." At that point, it was adopted unanimously.

According to the settlement agreement between Alvarez and the state, "Alvarez cooperated with the director's investigation into the positive urinalyses and provided information related to his diet in the days leading up to the collection of the urinalyses specimen samples, including his statement that he consumed meat during that time.

"Alvarez admits that the presence of clenbuterol in his urinalyses samples constitutes a violation of the commission's anti-doping regulations, regardless of whether or not he intentionally, knowingly, or negligently ingested the prohibited substance. Alvarez denies intentionally taking clenbuterol or any other substances prohibited by the commission."

Alvarez and his promoter, Golden Boy Promotions, maintained that the former junior middleweight and middleweight world champion did not knowingly take a banned substance. But they accepted the commission's punishment.

"As we have maintained all along, the trace amounts of clenbuterol found in Canelo's system in February came from meat contamination, and we provided the Nevada State Athletic Commission with a great deal of evidence to support those facts," Golden Boy Promotions said in a statement. "Although most professional sports, international anti-doping agencies and United States boxing commissions treat meat contamination differently from other positive tests, Nevada does not. Canelo and Golden Boy Promotions respect the rules of Nevada and are therefore satisfied with the settlement agreement reached today.

"Canelo looks forward to returning to the ring in September for Mexican Independence Day weekend to represent Mexico and boxing in what will be the sport's biggest event of the year. He is ready to continue his remarkable record of fighting at the highest level."

Alvarez twice tested positive for clenbuterol, a banned performance-enhancing drug, in random urine tests conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association in his hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico, on Feb. 17 and Feb. 20. He claimed the clenbuterol was in his system because he ate contaminated meat, a longstanding issue with athletes in Mexico, where farmers often include the substance in cattle feed because it helps reduce fat and increase lean muscle mass. But Nevada commission rules call for a suspension when a banned substance is in the athlete's system, regardless of how it got there.

The typical punishment from Nevada for a first offense for a positive clenbuterol test is one year, but commission rules allow for any suspension to be cut by 50 percent if the athlete cooperates with the investigation. Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs), 27, did and was rewarded with the light punishment.

The commission did not levy a fine against Alvarez because the May 5 rematch with Golovkin did not take place and, therefore, there was no purse.

Besides the suspension, Alvarez agreed to pay for and provide the commission with negative drug test results of his urine. both in competition and out of competition, before his next fight in Nevada.