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No ban for Rogers in clenbuterol case

  • By Andrew Hood
  • Published Apr. 23, 2014
  • Updated Apr. 23, 2014 at 8:39 AM EDT
Michael Rogers will not serve a racing ban for his clenbuterol positive, as the sport's governing body believed there was a high probability the traces of the banned substance came from eating contaminated meat in China. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

Michael Rogers (Tinkoff-Saxo) will not serve a racing ban for his clenbuterol positive after winning last year’s Japan Cup, avoiding a possible two-year disqualification that might have ended his career.

The 34-year-old Australian will be disqualified from the Japan Cup victory, but will not face a disciplinary ban, the UCI reported Wednesday.

“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,” the UCI said a press release.

“As a result, the UCI has proceeded with the automatic disqualification of Mr. Rogers’ results at the 2013 Japan Cup Cycle Road Race (the competition during which the positive sample was taken) but, after consulting WADA, decided that he should not be sanctioned any further.”

Rogers has been inactive since last October, when he raced at the UCI-promoted Tour of Beijing, and then won the Japan Cup a week later.

Rogers insisted that he did not take clenbuterol, and suggested that it entered his system via contaminated meat that he ate during a week-long stay in China before racing in Japan.

Many riders swore off eating meat during the Beijing tour, and the UCI insisted that controls were being conducted for clenbuterol during the race.

The decision marks a first in cycling. The World Anti-Doping Agency has previously not pressed for disciplinary bans in other sports in clenbuterol positives, most notably cases involving soccer players attending a junior tournament in Mexico.

Rogers’ teammate Alberto Contador served a back-dated, two-year racing ban after testing for clenbuterol during the 2010 Tour de France. Like Rogers, Contador argued that minute traces of the banned substance entered his body during a rest-day dinner after consuming meat brought to France from nearby Spain.Unlike Rogers, a three-member tribunal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport did not buy into the argument that contaminated meat was the source of the clenbuterol, and handed down a two-year ban in 2012.

Contador has maintained that he never doped during his career, but was disqualified from his victories in the 2010 Tour and the 2011 Giro d’Italia, among other results.

There was no immediate reaction from Tinkoff, but Rogers said the news was “extremely pleasing,” and vowed to return to racing as soon as possible.

“Over the past four months, my family and I have endured a very difficult time,” Rogers said in a statement Wednesday. “The UCI’s decision means that I can return to racing immediately, and I am looking forward to getting back to work, competing in the sport I love.”

Here is the UCI announcement in full:

Following a report from the WADA accredited laboratory in Tokyo indicating an adverse analytical finding for clenbuterol in a urine sample collected during a test conducted at the Japan Cup Cycle Road Race on 20 October 2013, the UCI provisionally suspended Mr Michael Rogers (see press release of 18 December 2013).

In accordance with the UCI Anti-Doping Rules and the World Anti-Doping Code, Mr Rogers took the opportunity to explain to the UCI how the prohibited substance had entered his system, and to provide supporting information.

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.

As a result, the UCI has proceeded with the automatic disqualification of Mr Rogers’ results at the 2013 Japan Cup Cycle Road Race (the competition during which the positive sample was taken) but, after consulting WADA, decided that he should not be sanctioned any further.

The UCI is monitoring very carefully the latest developments concerning clenbuterol, and will continue to take appropriate steps to ensure riders are properly informed.

However, 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.

In line with WADA recommendations, the UCI will continue to assess the presence of clenbuterol 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.

Rogers’ statement in full

Statement by Michael Rogers — Wednesday, 23 April 2014

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.

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.

Over the past four months, my family and I have endured a very difficult time. The UCI’s decision means I can return to racing immediately, and I am looking forward to getting back to work, competing in the sport I love. I wish to take this opportunity to thank my family, friends, teammates, colleagues, medical experts and fans who have showed continued support and understanding. Further, I wish to show my gratitude to the board of Tinkoff-Saxo for the professional manner with which this ambiguous ordeal has been handled. Thank you for having the perception of what is right, rather than following the path of least resistance.

Michael Rogers

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Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood cut his journalistic teeth at Colorado dailies before the web boom opened the door to European cycling in the mid-1990s. Hood has covered every Tour de France since 1996 and has been VeloNews' European correspondent since 2002.

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