Canelo Alvarez told ESPN that while he feels that he is to blame for not understanding the risks that came with eating meat in Mexico, he never intentionally took performance-enhancing drugs while training for his rematch against Gennady Golovkin.

Canelo Alvarez clenbuterol
Canelo Alvarez poses while weighing in before his September 2017 fight with Gennady Golovkin. (Image: John Locher/AP)

Alvarez and Golovkin were set for a May 5 rematch after last year’s controversial draw between the two middleweights, but the fight was cancelled after Alvarez twice tested positive for clenbuterol, resulting in a suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Alvarez Swears off Beef After Positive Test

According to Alvarez, the positive tests were the result of eating tainted beef in his native Mexico. Such beef has caused positive tests in a wide range of athletes competing in Mexico in the past, as many farmers in the country use clenbuterol in their feed to increase muscle and reduce fat in their cattle.

Alvarez said that he was to blame, rather than anyone on his team, for not understanding those risks and taking steps to avoid contamination.

“This was my mistake for not reading up on the risks, not researching more, more on the subject, on what’s going on with the beef in Mexico,” Alvarez told ESPN. “But I didn’t do anything intentionally. I didn’t do anything to try to enhance my performance. I would never do anything like that. It was a mistake and nothing more.”

One obvious step to take would not be eating beef while staying or training in Mexico. But according to Alvarez, he’s gone even further to make sure he won’t accidentally ingest clenbuterol again.

“I think we’ve gone to the extreme – to the extreme of not eating beef,” he told ESPN. “United States beef is different. I can eat it without any risk because there’s more control here. But I’m trying to get used to not eating beef.”

Brushing Off GGG Accusations

Golovkin and his camp have accused Alvarez of intentionally doping on several occasions, but Canelo thinks his opponent is just searching for excuses in case the rematch – now scheduled for Sept. 15 – doesn’t go GGG’s way.

“I think it’s an excuse because he’s going to lose on September 15, and so he’s just clinging onto that idea,” Alvarez told ESPN. “I think they need to do some research because clenbuterol isn’t a steroid…it doesn’t help performance, doesn’t add muscle, nothing like that.”

In an attempt to prove that the clenbuterol came from contamination from meat, Alvarez submitted to NSAC hair follicle testing in late March, over a month after the random urine tests came back positive. The hair tested negative for the substance, which would be consistent with a one-time contamination rather than consistent usage of a drug, though the hair tests are also known to be unreliable.

The rematch between Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) and Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) is set to take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and broadcast on HBO Pay-Per-View. William Hill has made Golovkin an 8/15 favorite to retain his middleweight titles.

The first fight between the two ended in a controversial split decision draw. While most observers believed Golovkin would win a close but clear decision victory, one judge scored the fight overwhelmingly in favor of Alvarez, while another declared it a draw and the third had GGG narrowly ahead.