April 24 – Michael Rogers will be stripped of his 2013 Japan Cup Cycle Road Race title but will face no further ban after the International Cycling Union (UCI) backed his claim that a positive test for the banned substance clenbuterol resulted from the consumption of contaminated meat.
Rogers, 34, who has won three world titles and an Olympic bronze medal at Athens 2004 and was a key Team Sky team-mate of Bradley Wiggins when he won the 2012 Tour de France before switching to Saxo-Tinkoff last season, was provisionally suspended after a urine sample showed traces of the drug following the Japan Cup, which he won, on October 20.
At the time he claimed to have inadvertently consumed clenbuterol during a visit to China prior to competing in Japan.
After providing supporting information to the UCI, the Governing Body found a “significant probability” this was indeed the case and decided against a further ban, although he will be stripped of his Japan Cup title.
“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,” a UCI statement released today explained.
“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 the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) decided that he should not be sanctioned any further.”
The UCI statement also explained that “the UCI is monitoring very carefully the latest developments concerning clenbuterol, and will continue to take appropriate steps to ensure riders are properly informed”.
But they insisted the drug remains a banned substance, and reiterated its recommendations to athletes and teams to avoid eating meat in countries, such as Mexico as well as China, known to have problems with contaminated meat.
Future cases will continue to be considered on a “case by case basis taking into account the country in which contamination may have taken place, as well as any scientific evidence supporting the likelihood of such contamination”, it was added.
Speaking to insidethegames today, a WADA spokesman confirmed they had been consulted by the UCI in the decision making process and supported the final outcome.
“The outcome of the decision not to sanction the athlete is consistent with decisions in previous cases where athletes had received Adverse Analytical Findings (AAFs) for clenbuterol as a result of the consumption of contaminated meat in China or Mexico,” the spokesman added.
“WADA reminds athletes to exercise extreme caution when travelling to countries that have a high risk of meat contamination with clenbuterol.
“We continue to approach and study any positive case on an individual basis.”
The UCI did not comment any further on the ramifications of the decision, but insidethegamesunderstands the issue is viewed as a special circumstance and in no way marks an end to the zero tolerance approach to doping cases adopted by UCI President Brian Cookson, under which athletes are responsible for all substances they ingest.
The UCI has also communicated the risks of contaminated meat to the cycling fraternity and insist the onus is on riders and teams to take precautions when visiting high-risk countries.
They do not believe the latest decision sets an unhealthy precedent for the future, but the leniency awarded in the Rogers case reflects the balanced stance being adopted after working with WADA on the subject of clenbuterol.
Alberto Contador, Rogers’ team-mate at Saxo-Tinkoff, also tested positive for the substance after winning the 2010 Tour de France and was banned for two years and stripped of his title.
Contador also claimed he ate contaminated meat, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected that and ruled a contaminated supplement was likely to blame.
In a message posted online today, Rogers reacted to the “extremely pleasing news” that he would receive no further suspension, as the Australian remains one of the few riders of his generation to be unblemished by a more malicious positive test.
“Today, I received the extremely pleasing news that the UCI has decided that no period of ineligibility is to be imposed against me following my inadvertent adverse analytical finding for clenbuterol in October 2013,” he said.
“As a consequence, my provisional suspension is lifted with immediate effect.
“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.”