Five Mexican soccer players suspended for positive drug tests
Mexico's hopes for a second consecutive Gold Cup soccer title took a major hit Thursday when its national federation suspended five players, including star goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, for failing a pre-tournament drug test last month.
The Mexican federation said the substance detected was the banned anabolic agent clenbuterol, which Decio De Maria, general secretary of the Mexican soccer federation, said the players ingested by eating contaminated food.
"Everything points to it being an accident, very unfortunate," De Maria told the Associated Press in Mexico City.
In addition to Ochoa, the Mexican federation said it suspended defenders Edgar Duenas and Francisco Rodriguez and midfielders Christian Bermudez and Antonio Naelson "Sinha". Of the five, only Ochoa and Rodriguez played in Mexico's tournament-opening 5-0 win over El Salvador on Sunday. Published reports late Thursday said El Salvador was planning to challenge that result in the wake of the failed drug tests.
Mexico was scheduled to play its second match Thursday in Charlotte, N.C., against Cuba.
A Mexican federation official said it has not been determined how long the players will be suspended, although they face bans of up to two years, depending on what the Mexican federation finds in its investigation. A special CONCACAF meeting has been scheduled for Friday to discuss the suspensions and the possibility that Mexico will be allowed to replace the suspended players on its 23-man Gold Cup roster.
In April, Mexican denied claims by Germany's anti-doping agency that Mexican beef contained clenbuterol. German officials advised against athletes eating products from Mexico because it might increase the risk of positive doping results.
Now, Mexico is essentially siding with the Germans.
"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."
-- Kevin Baxter
Photo: Mexico goaltender Guillermo Ochoa during a 5-0 victory over El Salvador in Gold Cup qualifying on Sunday. Credit: Rick Yeatts/Getty Images