Five players on Mexico’s Gold Cup squad have tested positive for a banned substance and will be removed from the roster, Mexican Soccer Federation general secretary Decio de María confirmed in a press conference on Thursday.
Starting goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa and first-choice center back Francisco Rodríguez are two of the players who tested positive for clenbuterol, a substance used to treat breathing disorders and that is also used on animals to produce lean meat.
The three other players to test positive were Antonio Naelson “Sinha,” Christián Bermúdez and Édgar Dueñas, none of whom started in El Tri’s 5-0 rout of El Salvador on Sunday.
"Last night, we received the test results that we conducted on 14 players from the senior national team ... on May 21," said de María. "We received the results and, unfortunately ... five came out positive.
"[They tested positive] for clenbuterol, which is a substance used to build muscle, which in some cases can be used for asthma," de María explained. "In most cases, [it's used] on pork and chickens."
Beginning on Thursday, the five players were removed from Mexico's Gold Cup squad and are suspended from playing soccer until proven innocent. Should they be found guilty, the players could receive suspension of up to two years, said de María.
The Mexican Soccer Federation believes the positive reading is a result of the players having eaten tainted meat between May 17-20, when Mexico were in the middle of training camp in Mexico City for the Gold Cup. The FMF will go about testing but an investigation will be made to determine the cause.
"We think they may have eaten beef or chicken on May 18, 19 or 20 that were contaminated with clenbuterol," said de María, who added that he finds it odd that five players coming from different clubs all tested positive. "We're not putting the blame on anyone nor see it as negligence from anyone, especially the players. But we have to follow the rules and carry out an investigation and that starts as soon as they're removed from the team."
The five players were not available to play in a 5-0 rout of Cuba on Thursday night, leaving only 17 available on the roster after right back Ricardo Osorio was scratched from the roster due to illness. The Mexican Federation will ask CONCACAF to allow them to replace the suspended players with five others.