Clenbuterol, Mick Rogers, and Chinese Meats

News in the cycling world is that Aussie Michael Rogers has tested positive for the banned substance, clenbuterol, after winning the Japan Cup on 10/20/2013.  Clenbuterol is the same drug that got Alberto Contador stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title.

Until now, the most serious accusation against Michael Rogers was in the 'wardrobe' category!

Until now, the most serious accusation against Michael Rogers was in the ‘wardrobe’ category!

Almost all fans who watch professional cycling are well aware of who Contador is…he was famous for absolutely leaving his opponents in the dust on monster climbs.

But Mick Rogers is of equal caliber, although he excels in a different cycling discipline; time trialing.  Rogers is a three-time world time trial champion, as well as the 2004 Athens Olympic bronze medalist.

Before the race in Japan, Rogers had competed in the Tour de Beijing.  He maintains that his positive test was likely due to contaminated meat eaten while in China. Of course we’ve heard all of the denials before, so we’re jaded, cynical, and just generally miserable cycling fans.

Is there ‘reasonable doubt’, a ‘preponderance of evidence’, or some other chance that what Rogers is saying is true? I don’t know, but it didn’t take too much investigating (Wikipedia’s sitings of clenbuterol poisonings in China) to find out that enforced standards in the food industry aren’t entirely effective in China.

After all, the developing nation is the wild, wild west when it comes to individuals scrambling for a piece of the economic pie.

That would include any advantage farmers could get from ‘cheating’ in the raising of livestock. Clenbuterol is a growth promoting drug that results in more meat and less fat. It’s been banned since 1991 in the USA and since 1996 in Europe.

But it wasn’t until 2011 that China banned the substance.  I highly doubt that all meat growers in China immediately lined up to cast their flasks of clenbuterol into the fire.

To give you an idea of how prevalent clenbuterol was, take note that in 2006 330 people in Shanghai were reported to have food poisoning from meat contaminated with clenbuterol. That’s food poisoning…not just traces in their blood.

In 2009 70 people in Guangdong (a province in China) had food poisoning after eating pig guts (organs). The culprit? Clenbuterol.

pig on clenbuterolIn 2011, the pigs raised at China’s largest meat producer, the Shuanghui Group, were caught with their snouts in the clenbuterol jar.  Seventy people were taken into custody when the state cracked down on the violation.

The well muscled pigs got a reprieve and were encouraged to flex and pose in front of their girlfriends.

So what are we to think regarding the Michael Rogers situation?

My thoughts…

1). If there was a country wherein tainted meat resides, it would be China; where ‘getting ahead’ is paramount in the newly emerging capitalism.

2). I would hope that Rogers and/or his team wouldn’t be so primitive (lack of sophistication) in an attempt to gain an advantage that they’d stoop to using a drug that is clearly tested for, and is so high profile after taking down Alberto Contador.

What a drag to be put into a position of having to prove you didn’t do something (how do you convincingly prove a negative?). But thanks to the dirty riders who have forged the way ahead of him, Michael Rogers is looking at a real crisis of credibility.

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