11 April 2011

Should clenbuterol still be banned?

Two professional cyclists were exonerated despite failing doping controls for clenbuterol, so where does this place the burden of proof for future doping cases, asks Dr Ros Tucker.

Two cyclists, Rudi van Houts and Phillip Nielsen, failed doping tests last year, including the testing of B-samples, but were recently cleared of any wrongdoing, based on their defence that the drug clenbuterol entered their system as a result of contaminated meat. Dr Ross Tucker looks at the implications of this ruling on the future of clenbuterol.

Both failed the tests after racing or training in Mexico (where, admittedly, it has been alleged that almost 20% of meat is treated and thus contaminated with clenbuterol). These cases, most of you will realise, are the same as that presented by Tour de France champion Alberto Contador, with the same outcome (for now).

Much has been written on the Contador case already, but the most recent exonerations reinforce the struggle that doping control has when a positive finding is not enforceable as a result of an explanation that can neither be proven, nor disproven.


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