It's not our beef, Mexico tells banned players

The Mexican government said on Friday its beef doesn’t contain clenbuterol, hurting the defence of the five football players suspended from the national team after testing positive for the banned substance.

PSV Eindhoven defender Francisco Rodriguez and World Cup goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, defender Edgar Duenas, and midfielders Christian Bermudez and Antonio Naelson “Sinha” were removed from Mexico’s Gold Cup team on Thursday after the Mexican football federation said they tested positive for clenbuterol during a pre-tournament training camp on the outskirts of Mexico City.

Decio de Maria, the secretary general of the Mexican federation, and Hector Gonzalez Inarritu, Mexico’s team director, blamed the positive results on eating contaminated beef. Last July, Tour de France champion Alberto Contador also tested positive for the banned anabolic agent and said he consumed the substance in tainted beef.

But the Mexico health department said on Friday that cases of contaminated beef in Mexico are fewer than one in a million.

The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association (Concacaf) said a meeting of the Gold Cup organising committee that was scheduled on Friday to consider possible actions over the players, was postponed while more information is gathered.

“The committee has asked the Mexican federation to provide more details regarding the doping tests that discovered the banned substance clenbuterol in the urine samples of five players taken during a pre-Gold Cup training camp in Mexico in May,” Concacaf said in a statement on its website.

The Mexican football federation has asked the committee to allow it to replace the five players for the tournament.

‘Nothing to hide’
Each team was able to bring 23 players to the Gold Cup and name 18 for each match. Ricardo Osorio was already sent home with an illness, leaving Mexico with just 17 eligible players for Thursday’s victory over Cuba.

Mexico plays Costa Rica on Sunday to decide the group winner after the defending Gold Cup champion easily won their first two games, routing Cuba and El Salvador by identical 5-0 scores, but the tournament gets tougher from here.

Ochoa insisted the suspended players did nothing wrong.

“We have nothing to hide,” Ochoa said.
“Our conscience is clean because we haven’t done a bad thing.

“It’s sad these things happen,” he added. “These are things that could happen in any restaurant in any location, and it happened to us when we were together in training. It is bad luck. We know this is going to be cleared up, and we’re facing the situation.”

Mexico defeated Cuba 5-0 on Thursday despite playing without the five.

Concacaf, the governing body of football in the region, was to meet late on Friday to decide if Mexico would be allowed to call up replacement players.

Mexico and the United States are the favourites to win the Gold Cup, which is the regional championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean.—Sapa-AP

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