Tainted meat: Australian cyclist Michael Rogers. Photo: Getty Images
Canberra cyclist Michael Rogers has set his sights on competing at this year's Tour de France after cycling's governing body, the UCI, lifted his provisional suspension for testing positive to the banned substance clenbuterol.
The UCI, based on an extensive examination, ruled there was a "significant probability" Rogers had inadvertently ingested the clenbuterol in contaminated meat while competing in China in October, 2013.
Rogers provided a positive A-sample in the following week's 2013 Japan Cup, and the UCI has since disqualified his results from that event.
But the 34-year-old, who has been banned since December and continued to proclaim his innocence, is able to continue his cycling career with professional outfit Saxo-Tinkoff immediately.
In a statement released to fans, the 34-year-old said the news was "extremely pleasing". But the three-time world time-trial champion expressed the distress he and his Canbera-based family had endured in the four months since his provisional suspension.
"I wish to take this opportunity to thank my family, friends, teammates, colleagues medical experts and fans who have showed continued support and understanding."
Cycling Australia chief executive Adrian Anderson said he was pleased Michael had been given the chance to prove his innocence through the UCI appeal process.
"We support the findings of WADA and the UCI regarding sanctioning and look forward to seeing him now return to competition,” he said.
The UCI said it would continue to warn athletes about the dangers of eating meat in countries such as China.
Rogers also thanked his team, Saxo-Tinkoff, for standing by him during the "ambiguous ordeal".
"Thank you for having the perception of what is right, rather than following the path of least resistance."
"I am looking forward to getting back to work, competing in the sport I love." "Over the past four months my family and I have endured a very difficult time," Rogers wrote.
In an interview with CyclingTips.com.au, Rogers outlined his plans to try and ride for Tour de France contender Alberto Contador in July.
Contador was banned for two years for testing positive to clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France and stripped on the yellow jersey, despite claiming he had ingested contaminated meat.
Rogers has already contested the Tour de France nine times, with a top finish of ninth in 2006.
"I have continued to train the whole time. I haven't missed a day's training in the hope that today' message would arrive," Rogers told CyclingTips.
"I've been working hard and I think I still have time to be ready for the Tour de France.
"I think the general condition is there, the race condition isn't, of course, and now it's all about coming together with the team and working in the best and most efficient way to move forward so I can be in top condition for the Tour."
Rogers said he would be happy to ride for Contador, who also won the Tour de France in 2007 and 2009.
"It s very encouraging to me. Last year I got to know Alberto quite well and it is always encouraging the see someone back to their best."