Football: Mexico can replace doping case players

NEW YORK, June 20, 2011 (AFP) - Mexico will be allowed to replace the five players withdrawn from their 23-man Gold Cup squad over positive out-of-competition drugs test results, CONCACAF said.

Football's governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean issued a statement announcing the decision.

Mexico, the defending Gold Cup champions, had petitioned organizers to replace the players because national federation officials believe they inadvertently ingested banned clenbuterol in tainted meat.

They tested positive at a pre-tournament training camp near Mexico City in May. Upon learning of the results, Mexican football officials pulled them from the Gold Cup after Mexico's opening victory over El Salvador.

Even without them Mexico were unbeaten in group play, and advanced to the semi-finals with a 2-1 victory over Guatemala on Saturday.

Mexico are to take on Honduras in the semi-finals on Wednesday in Houston.

CONCACAF said the Gold Cup organizing committee had reviewed the case and received advice from world governing body FIFA.

"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," CONCACAF's statement said.

"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."

Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, who plays for Mexican side America, defenders Francisco Javier Rodriguez of Dutch side PSV and Edgar Duenas of Mexico's Toluca and midfielders Antonio Naelson of Toluca and Christian Bermudez of Atlante were the players pulled from the squad by the Mexican federation as officials launched a probe of the test results.

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