Australian triple world time-trial champion Michael Rogers claims contaminated food may have caused him to test positive for the banned substance clenbuterol, his Saxo-Tinkoff team said. World governing body the International Cycling Union (UCI) on Wednesday provisionally suspended Rogers and Belgian Jonathan Breyne over alleged doping offenses.
In a statement, the UCI said that clenbuterol was detected in a urine sample given by Rogers at the Japan Cup Cycle Road Race on October 20. But the Saxo-Tinkoff rider denies deliberate doping, fearing a contaminated food source is behind the test failure. The UCI said Rogers’ provisional suspension would remain in force until a hearing panel convened by Cycling Australia determines whether he has committed an anti-doping rule violation.
Rogers, 33, a 2004 Olympic bronze medallist, competed in China a week before his failed test. The UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency have warned athletes in the past to exercise caution in the nation due to the illicit use of the growth promoter in livestock there.
“Michael Rogers immediately informed Saxo-Tinkoff’s management about the notification from the UCI,” the Danish cycling team said in a statement late Wednesday. “The Australian explained to the team management that he never ingested the substance knowingly nor deliberately and fears that the adverse analytical fi ding (originates) from a contaminated food source. Michael Rogers participated in the Tour of Beijing the week before the Japan Cup and travelled directly from China to Japan.”
Rogers has the right to request and attend the analysis of his B sample. Interim Cycling Australia chief executive Adrian Anderson said Thursday that Rogers does not hold an Australian racing license, meaning the body will not hear his doping case.
“While we respect Michael Rogers’ right to defend himself, we will support the maximum sanctions applicable in the event that he’s found guilty of doping,” Anderson told a media conference.
Clenbuterol, a veterinary drug for treating asthma in horses, also helps build muscle and burn fat, and is the substance Spaniard Alberto Contador tested positive for at the 2010 Tour de France, resulting in the stripping of his title. Rogers joined Contador at Team Saxo-Tinkoff for the 2013 season from Team Sky, where he rode in support of 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins.
Rogers, a veteran of nine Tour de France campaigns, left Sky after being named in evidence in the Lance Armstrong case as working with the American’s favored doctor, Michele Ferrari. The Australian won three consecutive world time trial championships between 2003 and 2005, the first of which was awarded to him after David Millar confessed to taking blood-booster EPO.
Former Australian cyclists Stuart O’Grady and Matt White this year admitted to doping during their careers but, unlike Rogers, they did not test positive in-competition.