Five Mexico players fail tests, blame food
PSV Eindhoven defender Francisco Rodiguez was among five players dropped from Mexico's Gold Cup squad Thursday after testing positive for a banned susbstance, results that the Mexican football federation is blaming on contaminated food.
Decio De Maria, general secretary of the Mexican federation, said he believed the players returned positive tests by ingesting tainted chicken or meat.
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Mexican officials said the substance detected in the May 21 doping tests was the banned anabolic agent clenbuterol. De Maria made reference to Tour de France cycling champion Alberto Contador of Spain, who tested positive last July for clenbuterol and said he consumed the drug in contaminated beef.
The Mexican federation identified the players involved as Rodriguez and four Mexico-based footballers; goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, defender Edgar Duenas, and midfielders Christian Bermudez and Antonio Naelson.
Rodiguez joined PSV in 2008 and has scored four goals from 60 matches with the powerful Dutch club.
''What is presumed ... one had to ingest contaminated materials - meat or chicken,'' De Maria said. ''Now comes the tough part, taking the players off the squad and opening an investigation. Meanwhile, it is a disagreeable moment to take this kind of decision, but we have to take responsibility.''
''Everything points to it being an accident, very unfortunate,'' De Maria said. All five players are banned from any matches until the investigation was completed.
The doping incident has the potential to dramatically affect the Gold Cup, the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean that was won four years ago by Mexico. Mexico is again the favorite along with the United States.
Mexico was to face Cuba on Thursday and Costa Rica on Sunday.
CONCACAF, the governing body of football in the region, said its officials would meet Friday to decide if Mexico could replace the suspended players.
The potential scandal also puts in doubt Mexico's 5-0 victory over El Salvador in an opening Group A match Sunday.
''El Salvador can protest. We haven't received it,'' CONCACAF spokesman Ben Spencer said. ''Any type of protest decision will be handled internally. We have a competitions committee which will look into anything like that.''