Alvarez And Golovkin Match Is Off After Clenbuterol Doping Charges

What Is Clenbuterol And Did Alvarez’s Meat Defense Avoid A Suspension?

Middleweight boxer Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was all set for his highly anticipated May 5, 2018 rematch against Gennady Golovkin in Las Vegas.

The event was canceled following Alvarez failing drug tests given by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA,) in which he tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug clenbuterol.

Golovkin will now defend his WBC, WBA, and IBO titles against rematch opponent Vanes Martirosyan, who has lost two or his last three bouts.

Since failing the drug testing, Alvarez’s camp has insisted that the traces of clenbuterol were found in his system because he had eaten tainted meat while undergoing training in Mexico.

Boxing fans have been left to wonder what clenbuterol is, if contaminated meat is a legit defense, and if it’s all enough to save Alvarez from a lengthy suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for doping.


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Clenbuterol: What It Is And It’s Side Effects

Clenbuterol is a beta2-agonist that causes dilation of the bronchial muscles. As a bronchodilator, it can be prescribed to treat respiratory disorders like asthma and COPD.

While not a steroid, clenbuterol does have some steroid-like effects, particularly when it comes to fat reduction and muscle growth. It slightly raises core body temperature, which thereby helps burn calories quicker and more efficiently. These properties make it a popular weight loss supplement and performance enhancer amongst athletes.

Common side effects of clenbuterol include:
Muscle tremors
Muscle cramps
Elevated body temp
Potassium deficiency
Heart palpitations
Loss of cardiac cells and cardiac hypertrophy


Why Is Clenbuterol Banned In America?

Many confuse clenbuterol with another β2 adrenergic receptor agonist, called salbutamol (albuterol,) which has been approved for medical use in the U.S. for almost 40 years now, is on WHOs list of essential medicines, and is considered by the medical community as one of the most safe and necessary medicines within the global health system. Clenbuterol is not the same as albuterol.

Clenbuterol was originally developed for vets to treat asthma in horses. The controversy began when the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service found the drug had been fed to animal livestock to help gain muscle with minimal fat.

Some Latin America and European countries have approved clenbuterol for asthma-use only, but most all others, including America, have not approved clenbuterol for human use at all. Some countries have even banned it for animal use, but the practice of ‘beefing’ up livestock with clenbuterol remains common in China and Mexico.

Some 140 patients were hospitalized in Spain after they consumed meat tainted with clenbuterol in 1994. Most recently, over 330 people were poisoned by pork containing high levels of clenbuterol in China.

The negative effects on the the heart and muscles have led to clenbuterol being labeled unsafe and banned by athletic associations. Clenbuterol is a banned substance listed by all the major anti-doping agencies, including the official body responsible for determining which substances are banned in athletics – the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). In the U.S., the FDA has labeled it as unsafe for human consumption.


Alvarez’s Defense Of Tainted Meat Isn’t Anything New

Some athletes have openly admitted to knowingly, purposefully taking clenbuterol. Afghanistan wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad, for example, pled guilty to a clenbuterol doping charge. The top-ranked T20 batsman took a 12-month ban from the International Cricket Council in 2017 after pleading guilty to taking clenbuterol via the Hydroxycut weight loss product.

Others have taken a different route to explain how clenbuterol is found in their samples: the meat defense.

Alberto Contador, a would-be triple winner of the Tour de France, tested positive for clenbuterol. He also claimed to have eaten meat tainted with the substance. After a two-year controversial investigation, he was found guilty of doping; stripped of multiple wins, including his third Tour de France win; and banned from cycling for two years.

Some have even been successful in the tainted meat defense. All five of the Mexico National Team players that tested positive for clenbuterol ahead of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup were cleared of charges. Francisco Vargas was cleared in 2016 after he tested positive for clenbuterol ahead of a boxing match.

Alvarez’s team insists that he failed the drug test because of tainted meat he consumed while training in Mexico. His defense wasn’t successful, though. The Nevada Athletic Commission examined the evidence and found him guilty of clenbuterol doping. He was suspended for six months.



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