At behest of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Canelo Alvarez submitted a hair sample which has tested negative for banned substance clenbuterol. Canelo received a 6-month suspension for twice testing positive for the substance in urine samples during the lead-up to his rematch with Gennady Golovkin, which was ultimately canceled — or at least punted to the fall it seems.
The hair samples from Canelo were provided on March 29 and tested by the WADA-accredited Sports Medicine Research & Testing Laboratory in Salt Lake City, and the negative result would appear to lend at least credibility to Canelo’s assertion that his positive urine tests derived eating tainted beef rather than using the substance as a performance enhancing drug. That’s because while clenbuterol is detectable in urine for less than a week after being ingested, the substance remains in hair for several months (provided he was taking large doses of it as part of a doping regimen).
“From the beginning, Canelo has insisted that he accidentally ingested clenbuterol from eating tainted meat,” Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy Promotions, Alvarez’s promoter, told ESPN. “The fact this NSAC-required hair follicle test came back entirely negative for any traces of clenbuterol should lay to rest any suspicion that he was intentionally taking a banned substance. Canelo is looking forward to getting back into training and returning to the ring in September. He thanks all of his fans for sticking by him and believes this test proves once and for all that he is a clean fighter.”
That said, the negative hair test doesn’t 100% rule out that Canelo wasn’t in fact doping because testing hair for clenbuteol can be quite difficult, particularly with light-colored hair. NSAC commissioner Bob Bennett had this to say on that particular issue:
“We initiated the test to be as comprehensive as possible but knowing it’s very difficult, according to the experts,” Bennett said. “It’s a difficult process to be able to confirm whether there is clenbuterol in the hair follicles, but I talked to (SMRTL president and laboratory director) Dr. (Michael) Eichner and he said they’d run the test even though it is even more difficult to run on light-colored hair. But we sent them the samples and the tests came back negative.”
Whatever the case may be, we’ll probably never know with absolute certainty. But we do know that Canelo is expected to make a September 15th return to the ring (on Mexican Independance Day weekend) and Gennady Golovkin is the top priority.