Tour of Beijing teams wary of clenbuterol in food

The peloton passes through the finish line

The peloton passes through the finish line (Image credit: Fabrice Lambert)

Cyclingnews has learned that teams have advised their riders not eat beef or pork during the Tour of Beijing in order to avoid accidentally testing positive for clenbuterol. The drug is used in the farming of certain meats in countries including China and has lead to a number of positive tests.

Last year Alberto Contador tested positive for the drug during the Tour de France. The amount of clenbuterol was 40 times less than the amount World Anti-Doping Agency accredited labs must be able to detect, however his sample was transported to a clinic in Cologne which is able to detect minuscule amounts of the substance. If his sample had been tested in Paris or most other European labs he would have likely escaped a positive test.

Garmin-Cervelo told Cyclingnews that its riders were under orders to avoid all beef and pork products during their stay in China, as a precaution.

"I advised my riders not to eat beef and pork. You can't use clenbuterol on chicken or fish," said Garmin-Cervelo manager Jonathan Vaughters.

Vaughters raised the issue of clenbuterol fears at a recent meeting with the UCI at the world championships and was advised that his riders should keep away from beef and pork and stick to eating fish and chicken, which are not treated with Clenbuterol.

According to Vaughters the fear wouldn't be over testing positive in China but once the athletes leave the countries. For example, an out of competition test taken in Europe or the US in a two to three day window after the race could lead to a positive. Testing will be carried out during the race, contrary to rumours that circulated on the web in the build up to the race. However the Beijing lab used for testing is not as precise in detecting clenbuterol as some other labs.

"Imagine if they get off the plane and they're tested the day after or two days after in an out of competition test and it goes to UCLA, or Europe and it goes to Cologne or Sydney in Australia, because those labs could detect the traces of it. I imagine other teams are advising the same thing but I don't know."

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Daniel Benson

Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.