Mexico have been granted permission to replace five players omitted from their CONCACAF Gold Cup squad for failing doping tests.Mexico’s national team was thrown into disarray earlier this month when six players, including goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, were provisionally suspended for testing positive to the banned substance clenbuterol.
Defenders Francisco Rodriguez and Edgar Duenas and midfield duo Antonio Naelson and Christian Bermudez were also removed from the 23-man squad after positive tests.
A sixth player – Ricardo Osorio – had already been ruled out of the tournament due to a prior medical condition.
The Mexican Football Federation (FMF) were adamant the players were innocent victims who had consumed the anabolic agent through contaminated meat, and requested permission from Gold Cup organisers to bolster their squad.
Organisers consulted with FIFA before granting that request on Monday.
“Based on the specific facts of this case, and on FIFA’s advice on the matter, the situation at hand is a case of force majeure as contemplated in the competition regulations,” a statement from CONCACAF read.
“Therefore the Mexican national team shall be permitted to replace the five separated players with up to five other players for the remainder of the competition.”
The FMF believes players inadvertently consumed meat containing clenbuterol during a training camp in Mexico in the lead-up to the Gold Cup.
Independent tests have cleared the five dropped players of doping, according to the federation.
“A laboratory at UCLA has informed us that (further) tests made on the five players were negative,” an FMF statement read.
The federation is awaiting test results on ‘B’ samples taken from the five players.
Mexico have gone undefeated through the Gold Cup thanks largely to the boot of Manchester United starlet Javier Hernandez, who has scored a tournament-best six goals in four games.
The reigning champions face Honduras in the semi-finals on Wednesday.