Australian cycling legend Robbie McEwen says the International Cycling Union (UCI) has to take some responsibility for any positive tests to clenbuterol in China, despite the cycling body’s claims it has put measures in place to protect cyclists competing there.
Canberra cyclist and three-time world champion Michael Rogers remains provisionally suspended after testing positive to clenbuterol at the Japan Cup in October, a week after competing in the Tour of Beijing in China.
Rogers has claimed he never ”knowingly or deliberately ingested clenbuterol” and says he fears the adverse result may be from contaminated meat in China.
Belgian cyclist Jonathan Breyne also tested positive after competing in China in October and November. He attempted suicide after being notified of the result.
The cycling union has acknowledged it knew about issues with clenbuterol in Chinese meat since the Beijing Tour began in 2011 and had put measures in place by employing a ”dedicated cook to supervise food” in the riders’ hotels.
Having originally called for racing in China to be suspended, McEwen said meat for future events should be imported.
”If they’re saying they’ve taken this precaution so it doesn’t happen, and then it does happen, then they’ve got to take some sort of responsibility,” he said. ”They’ve got to at least acknowledge there’s a bigger problem and they’ve got to look at another solution.
”Having dedicated cooks in the kitchens makes zero difference, it’s where the meat is coming from,” he said.
”Assuming the meat is the problem – and I see that as being odds-on that it is – they’ve got to do one of two things: either make races in China vegetarian, you eat meat at your own risk; or you take a bit more responsibility as organisers of the race and import meat from somewhere they know is safe.
”It’s fairly simple.”
McEwen took to Twitter after Rogers’ positive test and questioned whether some riders would be cautious about returning to China in 2014.
McEwen said Breyne’s story highlighted the importance of the UCI fixing the problem. ”It can spell the end of someone’s career, but it nearly spelt the end of his life,” he said. ”That’s how hard he took it.”
UCI spokesman Louis Chenaille said the union would work with the World Anti-Doping Agency.
”The Tour of Beijing organisers, the UCI, the local authorities and the teams have been discussing the issue of food safety since the first edition of the race in 2011,” he told website VeloNation.
”Measures put in place as a result of these discussions include the employment by the organisers of a dedicated cook to supervise food in all the hotels which house the riders during the race.
”The UCI will be discussing this issue with all parties concerned, particularly with WADA, to see if there are improvements which can be made to the current regulatory structure and the arrangements in place at the race.”
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