An official from the Mexican Football Federation (Femexfut) claims that five players from the national team who tested positive for clenbuterol following a test on May 21 had eaten contaminated meat, reports Reuters.
The banned anabolic agent, for which there is currently no minimum threshold under World Anti-doping Agency rules in order for a positive result to be returned, has been responsible for a number of athletes failing doping controls in recent years, the highest profile of course being Alberto Contador.
The Spaniard tested positive following a sample taken during last year’s Tour de France when he took his third overall victory in the race.
Clenbuterol is illegally used in some countries to speed up muscle growth in cattle, with the problem said to be particularly acute in China and Mexico. In April, the German anti-doping agency advised athletes from that country not to eat meat when travelling to Mexico or China due to potential contamination.
Mexican authorities denied there was a problem, but with the FIFA Under-17 World Cup due to take place in the country in the coming weeks, visiting teams are sure to be vigilant about what their players eat.
In common with other athletes testing positive for clenbuterol, Contador has claimed that the substance was presence in his system after he ate a steak brought over the border from France to Pau on the Tour’s second rest day.
However, anti-doping operations in Spain since news of Contador’s test became public have resulted in seizures of clenbuterol, suggesting that someone, somewhere is using it as a performance enhancing substance.
The meal that is said to have resulted in the positive tests of the Mexican footballers was eaten at the country’s High Performance Centre where the team was preparing its defence of the Concacaf Gold Cup, the competition for national teams in Central and North America and the Caribbean.
The five players had been suspended from Mexico’s game yesterday against Cuba in Charlotte, North Carolina, which it won 5-0.
Speaking at a press conference after that match, Hector Gonzalez, director of national teams at Femexfut, said: "Unfortunately, by accident, these players ate beef contaminated with the substance clenbuterol.”
Mexican authorities are now investigating meat supplies to the High Performance Centre.
"We're confident that with the investigation that is being carried out we'll be able to clarify (the situation) and reach a happy conclusion," he continued.
Gonzalez said that the players, who are facing bans of up to two years, in question were traveling to Los Angeles for further tests and that he believed those would return negative results.
He added: "We will ask also for the B samples (of the original tests) to be opened and we will await the results."
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.