SAN DIEGO -- Canelo Alvarez said it was "my mistake" for not knowing more about the risks of eating meat in his native Mexico, which he asserts caused two positive tests for clenbuterol and the cancellation of his May 5 rematch with Gennady Golovkin.
Speaking to ESPN in advance of the rescheduled Sept. 15 megafight, Alvarez denied using any drugs to enhance his performance but said it was his responsibility to better educate himself on the dangers of eating meat in Mexico, where farmers often include the substance in cattle feed because it helps reduce fat and increase lean muscle mass.
"I don't want to get anyone else involved. 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 said.
"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, not educating myself about this problem in Mexico. It was my mistake, and I won't repeat it."
To that end, Alvarez said he has stopped eating beef entirely, even when he is not in Mexico.
"After all this happened, I've been really careful," Alvarez said. "I mean, too careful. I think we've gone to the extreme -- to the extreme of not eating beef.
"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. Because most of the time I'm in Mexico, and I've stopped eating beef."
Alvarez has always contended that he tested positive for trace amounts of clenbuterol in random urine tests conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association in his hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico, on Feb. 17 and Feb. 20 because he consumed a small amount that was present in the meat he ate, as opposed to taking larger doses of the substance as part of a doping program. Larger doses would be more likely to remain in his hair follicles for months after he stopped taking the substance.
According to Dopeology.org, which extensively covers doping in professional cycling, "Clenbuterol, like many other substances, accumulates in very small amounts in hair follicles. If an athlete has taken the substance over a period of time in the past, his/her hair test might return a positive for a period of six months or longer. Conversely, if the clenbuterol resulted from a single incident, in which the subject had eaten meat for example, a hair test would almost certainly be negative."
Alvarez submitted to hair follicle testing at the request of the Nevada State Athletic Commission on March 29. The results document, which was provided to ESPN, was returned on April 20 with a single note in the section reserved for analysis details: "Hair sample tested for clenbuterol. Clenbuterol was not detected."
"The samples are there. It isn't just coming from me. It isn't coming from the commission or from VADA. The samples speak for themselves," Alvarez said. "The samples they took don't lie. I think that's the most important aspect -- that's the truth. It's not me talking. The samples speak for themselves."
Alvarez said his mistake was in not spending enough time or energy researching the dangers of meat, contaminated with clenbuterol in Mexico, despite numerous other instances of athletes testing positive for the substance after consuming meat in Mexico.
In June 2011, five Mexico soccer national team players were suspended from the CONCACAF Gold Cup after testing positive. The players were later exonerated by WADA due to meat contamination. In October 2011, FIFA revealed that more than half of the players who participated in the U-17 World Cup held in Mexico tested positive for clenbuterol while stationed in six Mexican cities ranging from the northeast to the central part of the country. In November 2011, WADA issued an official warning for athletes travelling and competing in Mexico to be mindful of beef consumption following the FIFA tests.
The following year, however, boxer Erik Morales tested positive prior to his scheduled fight with Danny Garcia at the Barclays Center. In April 2016, boxer Francisco Vargas tested positive prior to his scheduled June 4 bout.
Clenbuterol has been found in drug tests within 24-36 hours of the subject eating contaminated meat. Alvarez gave six instances of meals in which he ate beef within that time frame before his two positive tests.
Asked why he and his team weren't more careful about eating meat in Mexico so close to a huge fight, despite the long history of issues, Alvarez called it "irresponsible on my part."
"I read some headlines about it, but I didn't really dig any deeper. I didn't read enough about it. And I think that's my mistake, not having read further into it, not being aware of what was happening. But I think, whether or not my team should have said something or warned me about this, I was just leading my normal life like I usually do, and nothing like this had ever happened," Alvarez said.
"After all this happened, I've been really careful. I mean, too careful. I think we've gone to the extreme -- to the extreme of not eating beef." Canelo Alvarez
"Since 2011 I've been doing this. Unfortunately, it happened now, it happened before this fight. But, and I know some other boxers who have tested positive for clenbuterol, but I didn't really research what was happening. I think that was irresponsible on my part, not looking up more information on the subject, on why it had happened, what they had tested positive for. That was my responsibility in the end.
"But it was never intentional. I didn't even know about it, and to be honest I don't need illegal substances to help me in a fight. No. All the training I do and the discipline I have, those are what help me in a fight. I've never needed anything throughout my life, and I won't ever need anything because I'm clean, I'm an honest person, and I love what I do, I respect what I do. I'd never do anything like that because boxing is my life, and I don't want to give boxing a bad reputation. It's something I love. I wouldn't want my kids to see that, to have that image of their dad. Of course not. I would never do anything like that. Being clean is more important than anything else."
In April, Alvarez was suspended for six months by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for failing two drug tests, the lightest punishment typically given for this kind of infraction. Alvarez's suspension will be lifted on Aug. 17, six months after Feb. 17, the date of his first positive drug test.
He has taken offense to numerous suggestions by Golovkin and his team that his career and legacy should be tainted by the positive clenbuterol tests.
"They can say whatever they want," Alvarez said. "But I think it's an excuse because he's going to lose on Sept. 15, and so he's just clinging onto that idea. I think they need to do some research because clenbuterol isn't a steroid. It's not a steroid, and it doesn't help at all. It doesn't help performance, doesn't add muscle, nothing like that. I think they should do some research before talking.
"They're putting up a lot of excuses because they know he's going to lose on Sept. 15."
ESPN's Dan Rafael contributed to this report.