Orica-GreenEdge's Matt White has raised concerns over any WorldTour teams competing in future Asian races after Michael Rogers and Belgium's Jonathan Breyne both returned positive tests for clenbuterol in the second half of the season. The Saxo-Tinkoff rider tested positive following his victory at the Japan Cup on October 20, while Breyne was positive at the Tour of Taihu Lake in China, on November 5.
Rogers has claimed he is innocent of intentionally doping, proposing ingestion of contaminated meat at the Tour of Beijing as explanation for the positive test, and will await the results from his B sample. However if the second sample comes back positive the Australian could face a two-year ban under Article 21 of the UCI Anti-Doping Rules. Both riders have been provisionally suspended and it was reported last week that Breyne is recovering after attempting suicide.
"If we're taking international sporting events, into areas where there are WADA warnings due to cattle contamination with clenbuterol, then the UCI need to take more responsibility and guarantee that the teams are eating foods that haven't been tainted," White told Cyclingnews.
Orica-GreenEdge competed in the UCI's Tour of Beijing this year and White is adamant that more can be done by the governing body, especially as the event is compulsory for all WorldTour teams.
"All the teams stay together at the Tour of Beijing, so it would be a bit more expensive but there’s no reason why food can’t be brought over from regions where they can guarantee the produce is not contaminated.
"This is something that I will definitely be bringing up at the UCI meetings in February. I also believe more research needs to be invested in the validity of bringing in lower limit thresholds for clenbuterol so that cases which find micro doses can be viewed differently, but the big thing is the UCI need to guarantee that our race food is contamination free. At the end of the day we are at the Tour of Beijing because all teams believe in the future globalisation of our sport but our athletes need to be protected.This situation could have happened to anyone and people need to put some perspective on this."
Asked if he was worried about bringing his team back to China for next year’s edition of Beijing, White said, "I am a lot more now. I know that there was one team in particular that didn't eat meat products for the entire time that they were in Beijing. It wasn't our team, but that is the level we’re going to have to go to because at the end of the day unless things change it could be one of my riders next time.
"Clenbuterol isn't a drug that people would use during the race. It's a steroid that would be in your system for a long time if you were using it in a performance enhancing sort of way.
"I have sympathy for both the guys. I know Mick Rogers well, I don't know Breyne, but there needs to be a little more perspective added into these cases.
"It's highly likely that these positives have come from meat that was contaminated but how can riders defend themselves? Are they going to trace it back to the sweet and sour beef they ate on stage 3? How could any athlete defend themselves in this situation months after the findings come out? The only way the athletes can get off is if it comes back as negative when the B sample is tested, although there have been cases where athletes have been let off in the past, but that's why I believe guarantees need to be given when the WorldTour returns to Beijing in 2014."
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has 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 runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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