The UCI has said that it plans to meet with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), as well as the organisers of the Tour of Beijing, to discuss food contamination in China. The news follows last week's announcements by the UCI that the Australian rider Michael Rogers of Saxo-Tinkoff and Belgian Jonathan Breyne of the Crelan-Euphony team had both tested positive for clenbuterol while racing in the Far East.
Breyne – who attempted suicide through an overdose following the revelations – had tested positive after riding at the Tour of Taihu Lake last month. The 22-year-old insists he has never taken any banned substance.
Rogers’ positive test came after he won the Japan Cup in October. In the days beforehand, he had raced at the Tour of Beijing, and the three-time former world time trial champion blames the presence of clenbuterol in his system on food contamination.
According to Australian newspaper the Courier Mail, while the UCI has said it plans to review the situation regarding clenbuterol in countries where the substance is known to be in the food chain due to its illegal use on livestock, it will not intervene in the case of Rogers.
Last week the UCI asked Cycling Australia to open disciplinary proceedings against the 34-year-old, who joined Saxo-Tinkoff from Team Sky at the end of a 2012 season in which he helped Sir Bradley Wiggins win the Tour de France.
In a statement reported by the Courier Mail, a UCI spokesman said: "The Tour of Beijing organisers, the UCI, the local authorities and the teams have been discussing the issue of food safety since the first edition of the race in 2011.
"Measures put in place as a result of these discussions include the employment by the organisers of a dedicated cook to supervise food in all the hotels which house the riders during the race.
"The UCI and WADA are clearly aware that there is a risk of food contamination in certain regions/countries such as China and Mexico that can cause adverse analytical findings for clenbuterol.
"Currently, the presence of clenbuterol is considered as an anti-doping rule violation which is investigated on a case-by-case basis.
"The UCI will be discussing this issue with all parties concerned, particularly WADA, to see if there are improvements which can be made to the current regulatory structure and the arrangements in place at the race," the statement concluded.
In the wake of the positive test results revealed last week and with the issue of potential clenbuterol contamination particularly widespread in China and Mexico, some have queried whether the UCI should continue to hold events there.
Retired rider Robbie McEwen, now a technical advisor at Orica-GreenEdge, told the Herald Sun last week: "Why don't they provisionally suspend racing in a country where they know there's a problem?
"Why don't they say, 'Because there's a problem we'll protect our integrity and we won't go there'? But they won't because they're getting paid way too much money to go there and then they're forcing teams to go there.
"If you're a rider who has any sort of choice in your program and they say 'Hey can you go and race in China?' you'd be saying a big, fat 'No thanks'.
"If I was signing with a team I would put it in my contract that I do not have to go and race in China or any country with a clenbuterol contamination issue," he added.
Others have pointed out that ultimately it is the athlete’s responsibility and they and their teams should take extra care about the types of food they eat when in those countries.
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.