Former world time trial champion Michael Rogers can race again after cycling’s governing body accepted that meat he ate in China likely caused his positive doping test.
Rogers, an Olympic bronze medalist, helped persuade the International Cycling Union that he was not intending to cheat.
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"Upon careful analysis of Mr. Rogers’s explanations and the accompanying technical reports the UCI found that there was a significant probability that the presence of clenbuterol may have resulted from the consumption of contaminated meat from China," the governing body said in a statement.
Rogers raced last October in China, where clenbuterol is widely administered to livestock to build muscle and reduce fat. The 34-year-old Australian tested positive days later at the Japan Cup.
The UCI said it disqualified Rogers from the Japanese race but consulted the World Anti-Doping Agency before deciding "he should not be sanctioned any further."
"Over the past four months, my family and I have endured a very difficult time," Rogers said in a statement. "The UCI’s decision means I can return to racing immediately, and I am looking forward to getting back to work, competing in the sport I love."
Rogers had been provisionally suspended last December from racing for Team Tinkoff-Saxo.
"I wish to show my gratitude to the board of Tinkoff-Saxo for the professional manner with which this ambiguous ordeal has been handled," he said.
Rogers won three straight world titles from 2003-05. In 2012, he was upgraded to bronze in the 2004 Athens Olympics time trial after winner Tyler Hamilton was disqualified for doping.
Rogers’ teammate, Alberto Contador, was stripped of the 2010 Tour de France title and served a two-year ban after testing positive for clenbuterol in the final week of the race.
Contador claimed he ate a contaminated steak bought in Spain where the substance is banned but could not prove his case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Still, the court panel decided he ingested clenbuterol in a supplement and had not intended to dope.
China and Mexico have been identified for several years as a risk for athletes to eat meat because of clenbuterol use in farming.
In 2011, FIFA found that players from 19 of the 24 teams at the Under-17 World Cup played in Mexico tested positive for the substance.
"It is not a problem of doping, but a problem of public health," FIFA medial officer Jiri Dvorak said then.