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NAC failed transparency test with ‘Canelo’ Alvarez suspension

Updated April 19, 2018 - 6:09 pm

It’s too bad because, for a while there, it seemed as if a corner had been turned.

A battle or two had been won.

A ray of light was peeking through those seemingly infinite storm clouds.

It’s too bad because just when you thought momentum had swung back to a healthier version of athletes caught doping and legitimately punished in the battle against performance enhancing drugs, backbones became brittle yet again.

It’s too bad the Nevada Athletic Commission on Wednesday didn’t embrace the opportunity to stand up for things such as integrity and clean sport, instead selling the false claim it was tough enough on one of boxing’s biggest stars.

The commission could have suspended Saul “Canelo” Alvarez for up to two years after he tested positive twice for the banned substance clenbuterol in February.

One year would have made a major statement.

Six months, the length Alvarez received, was yet another punch to the gut of this reality: Those who regulate such sports can talk all they want about wanting to clean things up and be drug free, but not if it means financial risk to the states they represent.

What this means: Alvarez is now certain to fight in the same calendar year during which he was popped twice for drugs in his system, undoubtedly to receive his megamillions bout against Gennady Golovkin in Las Vegas come September.

Some think the fact that he will be denied two such massive paydays in 2018 justifies only sitting six months, even though Alvarez was hurt (see his recent knee surgery) and might have welcomed not fighting in May anyway.

Here’s a way to avoid such loss of income: Don’t cheat.

We’re past tainted meat jokes, the Alvarez reasoning for presence of clenbuterol.

It’s not even funny anymore.

The whole thing is just sad in a pathetic sort of way for boxing.

It’s too bad there are such few people as Dr. Margaret Goodman of the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association and Travis Tygart of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and the retired Don Catlin, one of the founders of modern drug testing in sports, experts who have championed clean athletes and want nothing more than to protect those who don’t want to cheat from having to compete against juiced opponents.

It’s too bad that after bans of doped Russian athletes were overturned just a week before the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, after a country with such a highly sophisticated drug program was welcomed back into the Olympic family, after International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said the war on athletes and drugs never will be won, we have yet another event stained by the presence of doping whose main participants are globally known boxers.

Where is the transparency?

It’s too bad that what always has been promoted as a transparent process in Nevada instead led to a closed door meeting between Alvarez and NAC executive director Bob Bennett, which I suppose means so much for those open meeting laws, unless we can expect a video or at least transcript from such a sit-down to be released?

Now that’s funny.

It’s too bad the commission failed so miserably on the transparency part of this.

I mean, it just blew this thing in terms of openness and clarity.

It’s too bad that by striking such a nonpublic deal that allows Alvarez to fight in September, perceptions that the commission did so to ensure he fights here and not elsewhere and in turn create all the revenue streams for Las Vegas that such an event would deliver are rightly again accepted as reality.

It’s too bad that it’s all about the green.

It’s too bad a sport such as boxing wouldn’t just turn its entire testing over to a global independent anti-doping agency, which it never would because then fighters who cheat could face real, serious, lengthy suspensions.

It’s too bad that while testing isn’t the issue, those who adjudicate punishment continue to be.

It’s too bad so few really care about this at all anymore, fans who just want to see the fight, media who justify such a light suspension, officials sworn to protect competitors but instead side with self-centered acts.

It’s too bad people are compromised for a million reasons.

It’s too bad. About everything.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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