Tinkoff-Saxo rider Michael Rogers is free to return to racing after world cycling’s governing body, the UCI decided there was a “significant probability” that the clenbuterol for which he tested positive after winning the Japan Cup last October was due to contaminated food eaten in China. Meanwhile, former Crelan-Euphony rider Jonathan Breyne, who attempted suicide after testing positive for the same substance last year, also after racing in China, has reportedly also been exonerated.
Other than stripping Rogers of that Japan Cup victory, in accordance with its rules, world cycling’s governing body said it would take no action against the 34-year-old Australian, who the week beforehand had been riding in China at the Tour of Beijing.
Rogers insisted in December, when he was provisionaly suspended, that he had never “knowingly or deliberately ingested clenbuterol,” and was the victim of food contamination.
In a statement released today, the governing body said: “Upon careful analysis of Mr Rogers’ explanations and the accompanying technical reports the UCI found that that there was a significant probability that the presence of clenbuterol may have resulted from the consumption of contaminated meat from China – where he had taken part in a race before travelling to Japan.
“As a result, the UCI has proceeded with the automatic disqualification of Mr Rogers’ results at the 2013 Japan Cup Cycle Road Race … but, after consulting WADA, decided that he should not be sanctioned any further.”
It said it would continue to monitor the situation regarding clenbuterol, but reiterated “that the presence of clenbuterol in a urine sample constitutes an anti-doping rule violation under the World Anti-Doping Code and the UCI Anti-Doping Rules.”
It added, however, that “it is generally acknowledged that in certain countries a risk of meat contaminated by clenbuterol can exist and produce, in specific conditions, a positive sample from an athlete. WADA has issued specific warnings about this problem in China and Mexico. Consequently, the UCI reiterates its recommendations to the athletes and teams concerned to avoid eating meat in these countries.”
It’s likely that the experienced Rogers will ride for Tinkoff-Saxo at the Tour de France in support of Alberto Contador – who in 2012 was stripped of his victory in the 2010 edition of that race and banned after testing positive for clenbuterol.
Contador too claimed that he had been the victim of food contamination, but with the steak in question having originated in Spain, the Court of Arbitration for Sport did not accept his excuse.
Reacting to the UCI’s announcement today, Rogers said in a statement: “The UCI acknowledged that the presence of clenbuterol in my sample collected during the 2013 Japan Cup was due – as I always stated – to the consumption of contaminated meat during my stay in China for the Tour of Beijing.
“The UCI, in particular, confirmed the absence of any fault or negligence on my part. Notwithstanding the above, and because the substance was found in my sample during the competition, my result obtained during the 2013 Japan Cup must be automatically disqualified in accordance with the UCI rules. Although this is unfortunate for me, the UCI is bound by its rules and must apply them consistently.
“Over the past four months, my family and I have endured a very difficult time. The UCI’s decision means I can return to racing immediately, and I am looking forward to getting back to work, competing in the sport I love.”
Meanwhile Breyne, who had been due to join the Josan-To Win Cycling Team for 2014, has told the Belgian press that he has been cleared to race again too.
His provisional suspension resulted from a positive test for clenbuterol from a sample also taken in China, at the Tour of Taihu Lake, and was announced on the same day as that of Rogers.
The following week, he was rushed to hospital to have his stomach pumped after taking an overdose.
As with Rogers, the UCI is said to have accepted the 23-year-old’s explanation that clenbuterol was in his system due to his having eaten tainted food, reports Sport.be.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.