Australian cycling veteran Michael Rogers has been provisionally suspended by the sport’s governing body after testing positive to the banned substance clenbuterol.
The 33-year-old, a three-time world time trial champion and 2004 Olympic bronze medallist, provided the positive urine sample during his victory at the Japan Cup Road Race on October 20.
But the Saxo-Tinkoff rider denies deliberate doping, fearing a contaminated food source is behind him failing the test.
The UCI said Rogers’ provisional suspension would remain in force until a hearing panel convened by Cycling Australia determines whether he has committed an anti-doping rule violation.
Rogers competed in China a week before his failed test and the UCI and WADA have warned athletes in the past to exercise caution in the nation due to the use of illicit use of the growth promoter in livestock there.
“Michael Rogers immediately informed Saxo-Tinkoff’s management about the notification from the UCI,” the cycling team said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The Australian explained to the team management that he never ingested the substance knowingly nor deliberately and fears that the adverse analytical finding origins from a contaminated food source.
“Michael Rogers participated in Tour of Beijing the week before the Japan Cup and travelled directly from China to Japan.”
Rogers has the right to request and attend the analysis of his B sample.
Clenbuterol, which helps build muscle and burn fat, is the substance Alberto Contador tested positive to at the 2010 Tour de France, resulting in the stripping of his title.
Contador blamed contaminated meat for the positive test but WADA rejected the Spaniard’s claim.
Rogers joined Contador at Team Saxo-Tinkoff last season from Team Sky, where he rode in support of 2012 Tour winner Bradley Wiggins.
Rogers, a veteran of nine Tour de France campaigns, left Sky after being named in evidence in the Lance Armstrong case as working with the American’s favoured doctor Michele Ferrari.
The Australian won three-consecutive World Time Trial Championships between 2003 and 2005, the first of which was awarded to him after David Millar confessed to taking EPO.
Rogers was upgraded to bronze in the time trial at the 2004 Atlanta Olympics when Tyler Hamilton was disqualified.
The Australian finished this season on a high by holding off a strong group of chasers to claim victory over 151.3km at the Japan Cup Road Race in Utsunomiya near Tokyo.
The UCI said on Wednesday the decision to suspend Rogers was made in response to a report from the WADA-accredited laboratory in Tokyo indicating an “adverse analytical finding of clenbuterol” in a urine sample collected during the event.
The governing body announced Belgian rider Jonathan Breyne has also been suspended for supplying a positive test for clenbuterol at the Tour of Taihu Lake in China on November 5.
The positive tests come as a fresh blow to the credibility of the sport, which many cyclists insist has largely left behind its troubled past.
“The state of the sport generally is fantastic,” Australian ace Simon Gerrans said recently.
“… I’m really confident the sport is being raced clean now on a very large scale.”
Former Australian cyclists Stuart O’Grady and Matt White this year admitted to doping during their careers but, unlike Rogers, they did not test positive in-competition.