Alberto Contador insists Michael Rogers is victim of food contamination

Meanwhile Robbie McEwen says UCI needs to do more to protect riders competing in China

by Simon_MacMichael   January 5, 2014  

Michael Rogers (CC licensed on Flickr by Alain Stoll)

Alberto Contador says he’s confident Tinkoff-Saxo team-mate Michael Rogers is innocent of doping and that the presence of clenbuterol in his system was due to food contamination. Meanwhile Australian ex-pro Robbie McEwen says the UCI needs to introduce more robust measures to protect riders competing in China against tainted food.

Contador received a mainly backdated two-year ban and was stripped of the 2010 Tour de France and 2011 Giro d’Italia titles after the Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected his claim that the positive test was due to him having eaten a tainted steak.

Instead, it said the most likely explanation was that it was contained in a supplement contaminated with the substance.

Rogers also claims that food contamination was behind the positive test result he returned after winning the Japan Cup in October. The Australian had competed in the Tour of Beijing in China, which had finished the previous week.

Unlike Spain, where the steak Contador ate was bought and taken across the border to Pau where he was competing in the Tour de France, China, like Mexico, is acknowledged to have a major problem with clenbuterol entering the human food chain due to its illegal use by farmers to boost muscle mass in livestock.

“I’m hoping everything can be cleared up,” said Contador, quoted in the Spanish sports daily, Marca. “Personally, I think it was down to contamination.

“I have full confidence in Michael and I hope the issue can be cleared up. He is a crucial part of our team.”

Samuel Sanchez, still looking for a team for 2014 after the closure of Euskaltel-Euskadi, has been linked with Tinkoff-Saxo but Contador said: “As for a possible replacement [for Rogers], today I have a pretty solid team, it’s late in the day and it isn’t strictly necessary.”

Meanwhile McEwen, who now acts as advisor to the Orica-GreenEdge team, said that world cycling’s governing body the UCI must do more to ensure that riders in races in China are not at risk of food contamination.

Quoted in the Canberra Times, in response to news the UCI had provided for a “dedicated cook to supervise food” in team hotels, McEwen maintained: “If they're saying they've taken this precaution so it doesn't happen, and then it does happen, then they've got to take some sort of responsibility.

“They've got to at least acknowledge there's a bigger problem and they've got to look at another solution.

“Having dedicated cooks in the kitchens makes zero difference, it's where the meat is coming from,'' he said.

“Assuming the meat is the problem – and I see that as being odds-on that it is – they've got to do one of two things: either make races in China vegetarian, you eat meat at your own risk; or you take a bit more responsibility as organisers of the race and import meat from somewhere they know is safe.

“It's fairly simple,” he added.

12 user comments

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On the one hand it seems pretty plausible that Rogers got clenbuterol in his system through eating tainted meat.

However, if China is acknowledged to have a major problem with clenbuterol entering the food chain then surely a pro cyclist (particularly such an experienced one) should make it his business to know this, and eliminate the risk in some way.

Either way, Contador has found an ally.

ragtimecyclist's picture

posted by ragtimecyclist [117 posts]
5th January 2014 - 20:45

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ragtimecyclist wrote:

However, if China is acknowledged to have a major problem with clenbuterol entering the food chain then surely a pro cyclist (particularly such an experienced one) should make it his business to know this, and eliminate the risk in some way.

Well, the easiest way to solve the problem is for riders not to go to China, but the UCI won't let that happen!

So....

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1011 posts]
5th January 2014 - 20:53

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Berti gave it to him.

posted by kobacom [81 posts]
5th January 2014 - 21:43

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I'm sure i've heard this before...

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
5th January 2014 - 21:59

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'Alberto Contador insists Michael Rogers is victim of food contamination' Well he would wouldn't he!

antonio

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posted by antonio [923 posts]
5th January 2014 - 22:12

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One thing leaves me wondering: how is this possible that he was the only rider with clenbuterol in his system? As far as I know, cyclists eat their meals together during races and there are no individual menus for any of them.

blog rowerowy - my blog about bicycles (written in Polish, but feel free to visit me! Smile )

mikroos's picture

posted by mikroos [176 posts]
6th January 2014 - 7:37

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mikroos wrote:
One thing leaves me wondering: how is this possible that he was the only rider with clenbuterol in his system? As far as I know, cyclists eat their meals together during races and there are no individual menus for any of them.

The problem is that one Rodgers was tested. The others are hardly likely to let themselves be tested if it leads to them being positive with the chance of a ban.

I have some sympathy with the young rider in China who produced a positive. But less so for Rodgers, he was in Japan at the time of the positive test so the 'Chinese meat' theory is a bit weaker (Japan will produce their own meat). I also wonder about the contaminated meat theory - if we know anything about steroids they metabolise quite quickly. So the Chinese farmer has to be stupid enough to inject his animal and then slaughter it to virtually no end - what benefit would it have to the farmer/animal to do that. The clenbuterol then has to be metabolically active after being packaged and cooked presumably. I think this was the point with Contador - the likelihood of him getting it into his system in an active way which would prove positive was deemed significantly low. But the benefits to a cyclist significant.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1064 posts]
6th January 2014 - 9:24

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"The UCI needs to introduce more robust measures to protect riders competing in China against tainted food."

Here's a suggestion. Don't race in a country with an appalling human rights record, a lack of food safety standards and a complete lack of respect for international copyright.

posted by Simmo72 [264 posts]
6th January 2014 - 13:51

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Simmo72 wrote:
"The UCI needs to introduce more robust measures to protect riders competing in China against tainted food."

Here's a suggestion. Don't race in a country with an appalling human rights record, a lack of food safety standards and a complete lack of respect for international copyright.

+1

posted by pwake [264 posts]
6th January 2014 - 15:03

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I'm not sure I would good old Alberto as my chief advocate

posted by jarredscycling [436 posts]
6th January 2014 - 18:58

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Rolling On The Floor Bertie acting as a 'stand up guy' He can become a team dietician when he's done.

The trouble with real life is that there is no danger music.

The Cable Guy

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posted by Cyclist [124 posts]
6th January 2014 - 19:48

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Having nearly finished Tyler Hamilton's Secret Race which lays bare the epic scale of doping in the peleton, I simply don't believe a word any rider says when found with illegal substances in their system. And as others have noted, having Bertie wheeling out the old dodgy steak excuse is hardly going to help your cause either. Sad.

Pastaman

posted by pastaman [206 posts]
6th January 2014 - 22:47

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