Canelo Alvarez caught in 'embarrassing situation' with failed PED test for Clenbuterol

The hotly anticipated middleweight title rematch between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, set for May 5 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, is in at least some jeopardy after Alvarez tested positive for trace amounts of Clenbuterol.

Alvarez was training in his native Mexico when the positive test was discovered. Alvarez twice failed tests, on Feb. 17 and Feb. 20, both for trace amounts of the drug. Both the Feb. 17 sample and the Feb. 20 sample were received at the lab on Feb. 21.

Golden Boy Promotions, which represents Alvarez, stated the positive test is “consistent with meat contamination that has impacted dozens of athletes in Mexico over the last years.”

In a news release from Golden Boy, Dr. Daniel Eichner, the president and lab director of the Sports Medicine Research & Testing Laboratory (SMRTL) that conducted the test of Alvarez, stated, “These values are all within the range of what is expected from meat contamination.”

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Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin
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LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 16: (R-L) Gennady Golovkin throws a punch at Canelo Alvarez during their WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight championship bout at T-Mobile Arena on September 16, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Middleweight boxer Canelo Alvarez of Mexico and WBC/WBA/IBF middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin of Kazakhstan face off during a news conference at MGM Grand hotel and casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., September 13, 2017. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus
Sep 16, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Gennady Golovkin (green trunks) and Canelo Alvarez (blue trunks) box during the world middleweight boxing championship at T-Mobile Arena. The bout ended in a draw. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 16, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Canelo Alvarez celebrates after his world middleweight boxing championship bout against Gennady Golovkn (not pictured) at T-Mobile Arena. The bout ended in a draw. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 16, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Gennady Golovkin (green trunks) celebrates after his middleweight championship bout against Canelo Alvarez (not pictured) at T-Mobile Arena. The bout ended in a draw. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 16, 2017; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Gennady Golovkin (green trunks) celebrates after his middleweight championship bout against Canelo Alvarez (not pictured) at T-Mobile Arena. The bout ended in a draw. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Britain Boxing - Gennady Golovkin & Canelo Alvarez Press Conference - The Landmark London - June 19, 2017 Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez pose after the press conference Action Images via Reuters / Henry Browne Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Boxers Canelo Alvarez (L) and Gennady Golovkin face off during a news conference at Microsoft Theater at L.A. Live to announce their upcoming rematch on February 27, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Gennady Golovkin (R) reacts from an attack by Canelo Alvarez during their WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight championship fight at the T-Mobile Arena on September 16, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Gennady Golovkin retained his three world middleweight titles, fighting to a draw with Mexican star Canelo Alvarez in a showdown for middleweight supremacy that lived up the hype. / AFP PHOTO / John GURZINSKI (Photo credit should read JOHN GURZINSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Canelo Alvarez (R) recoils from a jab by Gennady Golovkin during their WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight championship fight at the T-Mobile Arena on September 16, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Gennady Golovkin retained his three world middleweight titles, fighting to a draw with Mexican star Canelo Alvarez in a showdown for middleweight supremacy that lived up the hype. / AFP PHOTO / John GURZINSKI (Photo credit should read JOHN GURZINSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 16: (L-R) Gennady Golovkin throws a punch at Canelo Alvarez during their WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight championship bout at T-Mobile Arena on September 16, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 16: Canelo Alvarez in his corner against Gennady Golovkin during their WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight championship bout at T-Mobile Arena on September 16, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 16: Gennady Golovkin (L) thows a left at Canelo Alvarez in the fourth round of their WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight championship bout at T-Mobile Arena on September 16, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The boxers fought to a draw and Golovkin retained his titles. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Boxers Canelo Alvarez (L) and Gennady Golovkin (C) are lifted in the air at the end of their WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight championship fight at the T-Mobile Arena on September 16, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Gennady Golovkin retained his three world middleweight titles, fighting to a draw with Mexican star Canelo Alvarez in a showdown for middleweight supremacy that lived up the hype. / AFP PHOTO / John GURZINSKI (Photo credit should read JOHN GURZINSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 16: Gennady Golovkin in the ring against Canelo Alvarez during their WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight championship bout at T-Mobile Arena on September 16, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 16: Canelo Alvarez in his corner against Gennady Golovkin during their WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight championship bout at T-Mobile Arena on September 16, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 16: (R-L) Canelo Alvarez throws a punch at Gennady Golovkin during their WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight championship bout at T-Mobile Arena on September 16, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Boxers Canelo Alvarez (L) and Gennady Golovkin (R) face-off during their weigh-in at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino on September 15, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Alvarez will challenge WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin for his titles at T-Mobile Arena on September 16th in Las Vegas. / AFP PHOTO / John GURZINSKI (Photo credit should read JOHN GURZINSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Boxers Canelo Alvarez (L) and Gennady Golovkin (R) pose during their weigh-in at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino on September 15, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Alvarez will challenge WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin for his titles at T-Mobile Arena on September 16th in Las Vegas. / AFP PHOTO / John GURZINSKI (Photo credit should read JOHN GURZINSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Boxers Canelo Alvarez (L) and Gennady Golovkin pose during their weigh-in at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino on September 15, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Alvarez will challenge WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin for his titles at T-Mobile Arena on September 16 in Las Vegas. / AFP PHOTO / John GURZINSKI (Photo credit should read JOHN GURZINSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 19: Canelo Alvarez talks to the media during the Canelo Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin boxing press conference at The Landmark Hotel on June 19, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 19: Gennady Golovkin talks to the media during the Canelo Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin boxing press conference at The Landmark Hotel on June 19, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 20: (L-R) Lineal & RING Magazine Middleweight World Champ Canelo Alvarez, Oscar De La Hoya and Gennadi Golovkin attend the Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin Press Tour at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on June 20, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images)
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SMRTL is one of two World Anti-Doping Agency accredited labs in the U.S.

Clenbuterol is often fed to animals intended for meat consumption in China and Mexico, because it helps produce leaner meat. Notably, members of the Mexican soccer team playing in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup were cleared of anti-doping charges, after initially testing positive for Clenbuterol. It was found they had eaten contaminated meat, though notably, they did not play in the tournament.

In 2016, boxer Francisco Vargas tested positive for Clenbuterol before a fight with Orlando Salido, but the California State Athletic Commission licensed him provisionally, and he passed later tests.

In a statement released by Golden Boy, Alvarez denied doping.

“I am an athlete who respects the sport and this surprises me and bothers me because it had never happened to me,” he 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.”

He has no choice now but to submit to all the tests the Nevada Athletic Commission wants, because the commission’s position has long been that the fighter is responsible for what goes into his/her body.

“We have received the adverse analytical findings from VADA regarding Mr. Alvarez. As per our standing operational procedures, we are moving forward with our investigation.” said Bob Bennett, the executive director of the commission. “Accordingly, it would be premature for me to take any additional statements at this time.”

Tom Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter, was taking a wait-and-see attitude.

“We just found out and we’re going to see how the commission and the sanctioning bodies address it,” Loeffler told Yahoo Sports. “Any time there is a positive test, it’s a concern, but we’ll rely on them to do their jobs and go from there. There is not much else to comment on.

“Abel [Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer] has always wanted as much testing as positive, because he never wanted any doubt that Gennady’s power is all natural. Gennady has only wanted a level playing field and respect for boxing. He just wants it to be fair for both sides. That’s why VADA [the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency] is in place. Hopefully, this doesn’t affect the fight itself.”

Alvarez has moved his camp immediately from Mexico to the U.S., according to Golden Boy, to avoid potential future issues.

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12 athletes with the most lucrative endorsement deals
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12 athletes with the most lucrative endorsement deals

Stephen Curry and Under Armour

Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry surprised many people when he chose not to extend his Nike endorsement contract at the end of the 2013 season. Instead, Curry signed with Under Armour in a deal worth just under $4 million per year. In September 2015, he extended his deal with the brand to carry him through the 2024 season.

Curry is invaluable to Under Armour because the brand has trademarked phrases associated solely with the basketball star. CBS Sports reported that Curry might be worth up to $14.1 billion to Under Armour.

Curry, who has four signature shoes with Under Armour, has an estimated net worth of $47.3 million.

Derrick Rose and Adidas

In 2012, Adidas made a major money move by inking NBA point guard Derrick Rose to a 13-year, $185 million deal — what was then the largest endorsement deal in sports history. At the time, the deal made perfect sense: Rose was the NBA MVP for the 2010-11 season and, by all accounts, was set to be Michael Jordan's long-awaited successor in Chicago. Today, however, Rose is less of an asset and more of a liability to both his team and the Adidas brand.

Rose tore his ACL just a few months after signing the deal, and in the following years, he's suffered a multitude of other injuries, including meniscus tears in both knees and a sprained ankle. If that wasn't enough misfortune, in August 2015, Rose and two of his friends were accused of sexual assault. The case eventually went to civil court where Rose was exonerated. His deal with Adidas would most likely have been voided if he had been found liable.

With a net worth of $70 million, Rose now plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He is still injury-prone.

Neymar and Nike

Soccer star Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior — better known as Neymar Jr. or Neymar — is the first soccer player ever to create a line of shoes with Nike's Jordan brand.

Neymar had been a Nike athlete prior to aligning with Jordan. He signed an 11-year deal with the brand in 2011 for an estimated 9.5 million euros — about $10.2 million — per year. In December 2017, Nike debuted a new pair of Neymar's signature cleats — the Nike Mercurial Vapor XI Neymar FG.

To top it all off, Neymar signed the most colossal sports contract of 2017 when he agreed to a world-record transfer with French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain worth approximately $262 million. His net worth sits at $140 million.

Rory McIlroy and Nike

Golf phenom Rory McIlroy was sought after by endorsers at a young age. Now 28, McIlroy has endorsement deals with Omega and Upper Deck. McIlroy also replaced Tiger Woods as the cover athlete of Electronic Arts' golf video game in 2015.

McIlroy's largest endorsement deal, however, is with Nike. The golfer signed a 10-year, $250 million partnership with the brand in 2013. In April 2017, Nike announced that McIlroy had extended his contract for 10 years. In the new deal, McIlroy will endorse Nike apparel only, as the company has bowed out of the club-making business.

With a net worth of $110 million, McIlroy is among the richest golfers in the sport today

Kevin Durant and Nike

Kevin Durant first signed a seven-year contract with Nike worth $60 million in 2007. As the deal neared its expiration in 2014, Under Armour offered the then-Oklahoma City Thunder star a reported $265 million to $285 million deal. Nike countered that deal and Durant signed it.

Durant's new deal with Nike could hit the $300 million mark and includes a $50 million retirement package. His signature sneakers on the Nike website range from $100 to $195 a pair.

Durant agreed to one of the biggest sports deals of 2017 when he signed a new two-year deal with the Golden State Warriors worth $53 million. His net worth now stands at $150 million.

Lionel Messi and Adidas

Lionel Messi is widely regarded as one of the world's best soccer players. The Argentina star has won five Ballon d'Or awards — tied with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo for the most of all time — the most recent of which came in 2015.

Messi has a number of lucrative endorsements. According to Forbes, he pulled in $28 million in endorsement money in 2016 alone. And in 2017, Messi signed a lifetime contract with Adidas, the value of which has yet to be revealed. Some of his other endorsements include Gatorade, Tata Motors and Huawei Technologies.

Messi officially inked a new deal with FC Barcelona in late 2017 that will keep him with the club through the 2020-21 season. He has an estimated net worth of $340 million.

LeBron James and Nike

LeBron James far surpassed Derrick Rose's deal with Adidas as the largest endorsement deal in sports history when he penned a lifetime contract with Nike at the end of 2015. Though the exact terms of the deal were never reported, James' longtime business partner, Maverick Carter, told GQ that it is worth more than $1 billion.

Prior to the lifetime deal, Forbes estimated that James netted $90 million in a Nike endorsement deal from 2003 through 2010 and another $100 million from 2011 through 2015. In March 2017, the NPD Group reported that the 14-time All-Star had the best-selling signature shoe among all active NBA players.

James' net worth is an incredible $400 million. And, needless to say, he's also one of the highest paid players in the NBA.

Kobe Bryant and Nike

In November 2015 — about five months prior to his retirement — Forbes reported that Kobe Bryant had earned a total of $680 million throughout his career. About $350 million of that was earned off the court from endorsement deals with companies like Mercedes-Benz, McDonald's, Sprite, Nintendo and Sony. Largest of all these endorsement deals, however, was the one Bryant signed with Nike.

Bryant first signed a four-year, $40 million deal with the athletic apparel company in June 2003 after being wooed away from Adidas. His signature Nike shoe racked up $105 million in sales in 2014. In 2017, Bryant received the "Michael Jordan treatment" when Nike awarded him with a line of new sneakers following his retirement.

Today, Bryant boasts a net worth of $350 million.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Nike

Soccer phenom Cristiano Ronaldo has so many endorsement deals, he's been called a "walking billboard." Among these are agreements with Tag Heuer, Abbott Laboratories, Herbalife and, of course, Nike.

In 2016, Ronaldo followed in the footsteps of LeBron James when he signed a lifetime contract with Nike. Prior to signing this new deal, Ronaldo first signed with Nike in 2003 and developed a collection that included footwear for men, women and children. His signature Nike Mercurial Superfly V FG cleat currently sells for $300 on the company's website.

Named the highest-paid athlete of 2017 by Forbes, Ronaldo has a net worth of $400 million.

Tiger Woods and Nike

The golfer, who enjoyed a meteoric rise in the late '90s, has endured declining public opinion in recent years. In 2009, Woods' brand — not to mention his golf game — took a major hit after it was revealed he had cheated on his then-wife, Elin Nordegren, with multiple women. As a result of the scandal, Woods lost a number of huge endorsement deals, including deals with AT&T, Gatorade and Buick.

However, the golfer kept his endorsement deal with Nike. In fact, Nike extended its deal with the golfer in 2013. Woods' relationship with Nike began in 1996 when he signed a five-year, $40 million contract, and he reportedly made $100 million from the company between 2001 and 2006.

In December 2016, Woods announced that he had signed a multiyear golf ball endorsement deal with Bridgestone.

Woods' career and public image encountered another setback in May 2017 when he was found asleep in his car along a Florida road. Though he did not have alcohol in his system, Woods' speech was slurred and he failed a roadside sobriety test. Woods eventually pleaded guilty and will now have to complete a 12-month probation program to avoid prison time. Despite this conviction, Woods' major sponsors have stuck by him.

Woods currently has a net worth of $740 million.

David Beckham and Adidas

Like Neymar, Messi and Ronaldo, David Beckham enjoyed deals with a number of lucrative companies throughout his career. For example, Beckham earned $21.47 million as the global ambassador of Armani from 2008 through 2011.

Retired from professional soccer since 2013, Beckham continues to enjoy endorsement deals with Breitling and Diageo, among many others. In March 2015, Forbes reported that "in his first full year of retirement, Beckham posted the highest earnings of his career with $75 million in 2014."

Adidas is Beckham's largest endorsement deal. He signed a lifetime agreement with the company worth $160.8 million in 2003. David Beckham's net worth stands at $450 million.

Michael Jordan and Nike

Imagine a world without the Nike Jordan brand. You're not alone if you can't do it. In many ways, the Jordan brand made Nike.

Michael Jordan's original Nike deal was for five years at a mere $500,000 per year, plus stock options. According to ESPN, Jordan needed to sell $4 million worth of shoes by the third year of the deal. Incredibly, Nike sold $70 million worth of Air Jordan 1s in their first two months on sale in 1985.

That was more than 30 years ago. As of May 2016, the Jordan brand was generating more than $2.5 billion in annual sales for Nike. Nike said in October 2015 that it expected the Jordan brand to be worth $4.5 billion in annual sales by 2020.

Jordan's deal with Nike greatly contributed to his estimated $1.5 billion net worth.

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Jeff Novitzky, who has extensive experience at handling anti-doping cases as the UFC’s vice president for athlete health and performance, told Yahoo Sports the burden will be on Alvarez to prove he’s eaten contaminated meat. Alvarez could do that by producing receipts from a restaurant or a grocery store showing meat was purchased close to the time of consumption.

“Here’s what you do when there are allegations of meat contamination,” Novitzky said. “ … No. 1, you look at the science and you look at the levels. You have to determine if that level is consistent with meat contamination, which would be a very low level. But that, in and of itself, is not enough. The level [in Alvarez’s test] could mean that, ‘Hey, there was meat contamination,’ and it was a very little amount. Or, it can mean that it has been a while since the athlete purposely used Clenbuterol and the levels have just subsided.

“What [the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency] did in all of [the UFC’s] cases is they went into the investigative element of anti-doping. They sent investigators to the athlete and the athlete had to prove, via records, that they had purchased meat in a store or at a restaurant. They have to prove they were present in the country. We’ve had them from both Mexico and China. So they had to show they were residing there at the time. They are subject to interviews and in all but one of our cases, everything matched out.”

Novitzky said there should be continued testing after the initial positive and it should show subsiding levels.

“The bottom line is you can’t just rely on the low levels in the test and the athlete’s excuses,” Novitzky said. “Further investigative analysis is required to determine what the athlete says is valid or not.”

Victor Conte, the former head of BALCO, was working with Vargas when Vargas tested positive for Clenbuterol. Conte said he is not working with either Golden Boy or Alvarez, but said he believes this is a case of meat contamination.

Conte said he believes boxers in the past intentionally used Clenbuterol and said it would be a very effective substance for a boxer.

“Clenbuterol is an asthma medication, what they call a bronchial dilator,” Conte said. “That’s what the use is, what the medically indicated use is. Bodybuilders for years have used Clenbuterol. It is not an anabolic steroid, but it is an anabolic agent. That means it helps to retain muscle, or build muscle, and burns body fat, which is exactly what a bodybuilder wants.

“This is in fact a very potent and effective drug for a boxer. So, in the past, do I believe boxers intentionally used Clenbuterol to gain a competitive edge? I do.”

But Conte said he believes that this case is one stemming from meat contamination. He said Nevada is handling it much the same way that California handled Vargas’ case in 2016, by increasing its testing of Alvarez.

The concentration of Clenbuterol in Alvarez’s body was low, and that is significant, Conte said.

“When they say trace amounts, it’s way down in the parts per trillion,” Conte said. “You have parts per million, parts per billion and then parts per trillion. You have trace and then this would be called ultra-trace concentrations. So do I think this is likely it came from a contaminated meat source? I do.”

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