After news of the positive test for clenbuterol by Alberto Contador broke in late-September 2010, we sought to clear up some facts on the product. With the judgement offered by the UCI in relation to the Michael Rogers case from the Japan Cup (stemming from the Tour of Beijing) in late 2013, it is clear that there’s an acceptance of widespread use of clenbuterol in China. For the sake of interest, here is a reply offered by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority from several years ago.

“Clenbuterol is registered for use in Australia as a muscle relaxant during labour for cows and sheep. It is used infrequently for this purpose and is only available for use on prescription and under the supervision of a registered veterinary surgeon. Clenbuterol has withholding periods (WHP) for meat and milk, which are the minimum periods which must elapse between last administration of the medicine to the animal and collection of milk or slaughter of the animal for human consumption. The WHP for both meat and milk is six days and ensures that residues in milk or meat are unlikely and any residues that may occur are for safe human consumption. WHPs are a mandatory part of our regulatory system for veterinary medicines.

“Clenbuterol is also registered for use in Australia for treatment of respiratory diseases in horses not used for food production.

“The National Residues Survey (part of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) undertake random and targeted compliance monitoring of agricultural and veterinary chemical residues and environmental contaminants in Australian produce to ensure that residues in food do not exceed allowable limits. Survey results are publicly available in annual reports on their website.

“The National Residue Survey provides evidence and quality assurance to consumers and export markets that the usage of agricultural and vet chemicals is in accordance with the regulatory framework. Of the 326 cattle samples and 370 sheep samples tested by the National Residues Survey in 2009-10, there were 0 detections.

“The role of the APVMA is to independently evaluate the safety and performance of pesticides and veterinary medicines intended for sale, ensuring that the health and safety of people, animals and crops, the environment and trade are protected.”