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Clenbuterol was back in the news this week with Michael Rogers and a Belgian rider testing positive for the banned bronchodilator after recent trips to Asia.
Jonathan Breyne, a 22-year-old Belgian rider who tested positive for clenbuterol after racing in China at the Tour of Taihu Lake, reportedly tried to commit suicide after news of his test broke. Breyne survived, but both he and Rogers are facing possible racing bans.
Both deny any wrongdoing, and insist clenbuterol entered their systems after competing in China, where other athletes have tested positive for the banned product, which can be used to quickly add weight to cattle and pigs before slaughter.
Rogers, 34, tested positive after winning the Japan Cup, but competed the week before during the third edition of the Tour of Beijing.
Many wondered how Rogers might have tested positive in Japan, but not while racing in China. With victory in Japan, Rogers was selected for an anti-doping control, and it’s likely he might not have been tested at all by random controls in China.
Since the Tour of Beijing was introduced in 2011 by the UCI-owned Global Cycling Promotion, some have whispered that the UCI was not testing for clenbuterol during that race.
On Friday, UCI officials said that is not the case.
“All samples are analyzed for clenbuterol, in any WADA lab. It’s a routine analysis,” a UCI official said via email. “That means all samples from the Tour of Beijing were analyzed for clenbuterol. Same for Japan.”
Following Contador’s controversial clenbuterol case in 2010 — which led to a backdated two-year ban and saw him stripped of his victories in the 2010 Tour de France and 2011 Giro d’Italia, among other results — riders say they are more careful about eating meat in such places as China and Mexico.
From the very first edition of the Tour of Beijing in 2011, riders and teams told VeloNews that they stopped eating any meat during the WorldTour race, to avoid any risk of an accidental positive.
As for Contador, he said he has not eaten any beef anywhere since 2010.