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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina - Mexico suspended five members of its national team Thursday after testing positive for a banned substance in a pre-tournament training camp, making them ineligible for their game against Cuba, a team spokesman said.
Antonio Naelson, Christian Bermudez, Edgar Duenas, Francisco Javier Rodriguez and goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa all tested positive for clenbuterol, a drug used to treat breathing disorders, during the team's Mexico training camp in Mexico prior to the Gold Cup, team press officer Juan Jose Kotchen said Thursday at the team's hotel.
Kotchen confirmed the announcement made by Mexican Federation General Secretary Decio de Maria during a news conference in Cancun, Mexico.
"The sanctions could be from zero to two years, as instructed by Alfonso Sabater of the disciplinary commission," de Maria said. "Starting (Friday) there will be an ongoing investigation.The time frame I do not know, but we hope we can find the necessary pieces to get to the bottom of this and make a decision. While there is no definitive resolution, these five players are not to play."
Because the five all tested positive for the same substance, it is believed the source was meat consumed during their time at training camp, Kotchen said.
Germany's anti-doping agency has issued a warning to its athletes about consuming meat in Mexico because of it being tainted with clenbuterol, sometimes spelled clembuterol, more than in China.
CONCACAF General Secretary Chuck Blazer said a meeting of the confederation's national teams committee, which also serves as the organizing committee of the Gold Cup, will be convened Friday to consider the situation, including possibly allowing Mexico to replace the five players.
There are also published reports that El Salvador will dispute the results of their match against Mexico, a 5-0 loss, last week in Dallas.
Kotchen said there were small amounts of the substance found in the suspended players' test results. He also said the all the players gathered at the pre-Gold Cup camp ate the same meals. It is not clear why only five players tested positive.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency has published reports of clenbuterol use to promote growth in livestock, including cattle, lamb, poultry and swine. Such use is illegal in the United States and Europe.
The USADA said in those reports that the risk of a positive drug test from ingesting meat contaminated by clenbuterol is remote. The USADA website says that over the last 10 years, the USADA has performed more than 75,000 tests worldwide. There has been only one case with a clenbuterol positive result.
It said that the positive test was the result of the use of a contaminated supplement, not from eating contaminated meat.
The USADA has reported on;ly six cases in which athletes have shown their clenbuterol positive test to be from contaminated meat. The athletes in those cases were cleared and were not sanctioned.
Kotchen said FIFA and CONCACAF had not decided on any further sanctions. He said the Mexican Soccer Federation is waiting for word from both governing bodies to determine the future of the suspended players.
For now, Mexico coach Jose Manuel de la Torre will have to continue the Gold Cup without those players. Alfredo Talavera replaced Ochoa as the starting goalkeeper. Rafeal Marquez, who was used a substitute against El Salvador, started against Cuba.