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April 23, 2014 – The International Cycling Union (UCI) on Wednesday lifted its doping ban on Australian Michael Rogers, who last year tested positive for clenbuterol.Rogers was provisionally banned after testing for the banned stimulant, which increases aerobic capacity, in a urine sample at the Japan Cup last October. However, the 34-year-old has now been partially exonerated as the UCI accepted his claim that he had not taken the substance intentionally.
“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 traveling to Japan,” said a UCI statement.
The Tinkoff-Saxo rider was nonetheless stripped of his victory in Japan, although he is now free to continue racing. Rogers was one of double Tour de France winner Alberto Contador’s main lieutenants at last year’s Grand Boucle. He is a three-time track world champion and finished second to Bradley Wiggins at the prestigious 2012 Criterium du Dauphine.
Rogers is not the first athlete to be caught out by meat contaminated with clenbuterol in China. Beijing Olympic heavyweight judo champion Tong Wen tested positive for clenbuterol in 2010 and was initially banned for two years and stripped of her 2009 world title. However, she contested the ban, took her case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and successfully had her suspension overturned, allowing her to win another world title in 2011 and take bronze at the London Olympics the next year.
The UCI were keen to stress, though, that eating contaminated meat will not always be accepted as an excuse for taking clenbuterol.
“The UCI reiterates 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 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.”