The International Cycling Union (U.C.I.) backed up claims made by an Australian cyclist who said that tainted food in China was the reason that he tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
Olympic bronze medalist Michael Rogers was stripped of his victory at the Japan Cup Cycle Road Race last October when he tested positive for clenbuterol, a sympathomimetic drug that athletes use to drop body fat quickly. It’s used by farmers in China and in other countries to produce leaner meat on pigs and cattle.
U.C.I. said yesterday that Roger’s disqualifications from the race were still in effect but that any further accusations against him would be dropped, as “there was a significant probability that the presence of clenbuterol may have resulted from the consumption of contaminated meat from China,” according to New York Times’ Sinosphere.
This means that a potential racing ban against Roger has been dropped. “I am looking forward to getting back to work, competing in the sport I love,” Rogers responded to the news in a written statement.
“I would like to make it very clear, in the strongest terms possible that I have never knowingly or deliberately ingested clenbuterol,” the had said back in December.
“I can advise that during the period 8th-17th of October, before arriving in Japan, I was present in China for the World Tour race, Tour of Beijing,” he said.
Indeed, China has seen its fair share of food scandals involving the fat-burning additive. In 2006, over 300 people in Shanghai became ill after eating meat laced with the drug. In 2011, Clenbuterol-tainted pork began circulating in markets after being distributed by Shuanghui Group, the country’s largest meat processors.
The World Anti-Doping Agency has urged athletes to “exercise extreme caution with regards to eating meat when travelling to competitions in China and Mexico.”