Warning to all: Cyclist Michael Rogers was caught out by tainted meat in China. Photo: Getty Images
Three-time Tour de France green-jersey winner Robbie McEwen thinks the silver lining to Michael Rogers' now-overturned provisional suspension could be the Canberra cyclist having his best season ever.
Rogers was provisionally suspended after having an adverse analytical finding for clenbuterol in a urine sample collected during his Japan Cup victory in October last year, but world cycling's governing body, Union Cycliste Internationale, cleared him of any wrongdoing on Wednesday because it was highly likely the banned substance was in Chinese meat he'd eaten.
While the triple world champion was stripped of his Japan victory, which came after competing in the Tour of Beijing, he's now clear to resume racing in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday.
The Tinkoff-Saxo rider's career had been in limbo since the provisional ban in December, but he spent the past four months training, and McEwen felt it would enable the 34-year-old to return to the professional tour in top shape.
Tinkoff-Saxo is yet to name its team for this year's Tour de France, which starts in July, but McEwen felt Rogers would be a crucial cog in Alberto Contador's campaign to reclaim the yellow jersey.
Contador has twice won the world's most famous bike race and McEwen said early-season form had the Spaniard favourite to do it a third time.
''Maybe there's a silver lining to the cloud, that it's given him the chance to build a big base and maybe work on little things, and it could end up being his best season ever,'' McEwen said on Friday.
''With such a long pre-season ... I expect him to come out and ride a really solid remainder of the season.
''I think he'll just be really pleased to be back where he belongs in the peloton and put this behind him.
''I think he'll, in a way, have a point to prove a little bit that the time out of the peloton was unjustified, and he'll be wanting to make up for lost time.''
McEwen said justice and common sense had prevailed with the Rogers decision.
He said four months was a long time, but the UCI did have to follow due process to ensure it came to the correct verdict.
''Justice has been served. I think common sense has prevailed, and I think it's the result that a lot of people hoped for and expected, but I've got to say, it did take a while,'' McEwen said.
''From the UCI's point of view, they've got to go through the process ... I suppose that takes time to put everything together and [ensure] their decision is justified and everything is watertight.''
China is renowned for using clenbuterol in their meat industry and when Rogers was provisionally banned, McEwen was vocal about the UCI taking more responsibility to ensure the riders were safe.
He called for the UCI to bring its own meat into the Tour of Beijing – a measure he said they will now take up.
Canberra cyclist Tom Palmer revealed on Thursday he becomes a vegan when he's in China to ensure there's no chance he can get caught out like Rogers did.
McEwen said other cyclists should follow suit.
''I think now there's been enough cases, and with a high-profile case like Mick's, it should be ample warning to everybody that if you race in China, don't eat the meat unless you absolutely know it comes from a trustworthy source,'' he said.
''I've spoken to someone involved with the Tour of Beijing and their next move is to import meat from Europe and give the riders some peace of mind about where the food's coming from.
''I would imagine a lot of guys would be going vegetarian.''