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Canelo Alvarez back in the U.S. as clenbuterol probe continues

Canelo Alvarez returned to the U.S. this week hopeful of a clean start following his dirty tests in Mexico for a banned performance-enhancing substance.

The popular former two-division champion has submitted two additional tests conducted by the Nevada-based Voluntary Anti-Doping Assn. since his two positive tests, and the March 3 and 5 samples were both negative, according to Nevada Athletic Commission Executive Director Bob Bennett and Alvarez promoter Eric Gomez.

“Canelo will cooperate 100% and he knows in his heart that he’ll be vindicated,” Golden Boy Promotions President Gomez said of an ongoing commission investigation into Alvarez’s positive tests.

Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 knockouts) won a lesser administrative victory Thursday over his scheduled May 5 opponent Gennady Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) when Bennett allowed Alvarez to continue the hand-wrapping procedures he used in his September draw with Golovkin.

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Golovkin trainer Abel Sanchez protested Alvarez’s “stacking” method of hand wrapping, which calls for a second padding of gauze and tape over the first layer.

Sanchez, upset that the method isn’t allowed by several other commissions, forced a Thursday meeting in which a veteran cornerman testified that the procedure is more a protective measure to cover metacarpal bones than it is an unfair advantage, as Sanchez had claimed.

“It’s legal, perfectly legal,” Gomez said. “It’s been explained [to the Golovkin team], the rule has been read and it’s legal.”

Now comes the far trickier matter of Alvarez explaining how the banned substance clenbuterol was found in his system in the two February tests.

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Limiting his public comments at this point to a prepared statement released by his promoter, Alvarez has claimed he believes he accidentally ingested meat in Mexico contaminated by the substance, which is used by ranchers to fatten up their cattle before slaughter.

But the substance is banned by anti-doping authorities because it also assists in building an athlete’s stamina and endurance, and Alvarez was nabbed at a time in training when he’s working to do exactly that.

He vowed to immediately return to the U.S. after the positives emerge, arriving Wednesday, and will certainly be subject to increased testing before the May 5 rematch, as long as the Nevada commission finds the level of clenbuterol in his system was consistent with meat contamination and allows the fight to proceed.

“A decision on that matter is premature as of now because we’re still conducting the investigation,” Bennett said.

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Golovkin this week labeled Alvarez “shameful” and “stupid” for allowing the substance to enter his body after clenbuterol previously led to more than 100 positive tests of soccer players earlier this decade, and also caused strife when previously detected in the system of Mexican boxing great Erik Morales and former super-featherweight champion Francisco Vargas.

Gomez’s company, Golden Boy, cited an expert saying in its statement that the level seemed consistent with meat contamination.

“This is one of the few cases [the expert] has come out and said it’s consistent with meat contamination,” Gomez said. “And Canelo has been perfectly clean after.”

Gomez said Alvarez “has no problem” submitting to additional testing -- as Vargas did before his 2016 draw with Orlando Salido -- to calm concerns.

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“Canelo, aside from [Floyd] Mayweather, is probably the most tested boxer ever and this is the first time they’ve found anything,” Gomez said.

Due to the ongoing investigation, Gomez said he didn’t want to divulge the circumstances of when and where Alvarez ingested Mexican meat.

“We’re cooperating fully as they’re doing their very thorough investigation, and I can tell you [the Nevada commission] is getting all that [information],” Gomez said. “They’re working on it now. We won’t rush them. As long as it takes … .”

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

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Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire


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