Thursday, June 9th proved one of the more bizarre days in 2011 as five members of the Mexican national team tested positive for doping and the formidable striking duo of Javier Chicharito Hernandez and Giovani dos Santos scored a brace each against Cuba in the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament.
Celebrity goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, one of the best keepers in the world not playing in Europe’s top leagues, and four others tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol. Commonly used as a decongestant and bronchodilator, clenbuterol is an ingredient in a number of asthma medications.
It is also used as a performance enhancing drug for its fat burning properities. Among the many athletes who have used clenbuterol for this purpose are Tong Wen, Chinese Olympic judo champion, Spanish Tour de France champion Alberto Contador and Cardinals short stop Lainer Bueno.
The other players involved in the doping are midfielder Antonio Naelson, defender Francisco Javier Rodriguez, defender Edgar Duenas and rarely used midfielder/striker Christian Bermudez, known as “El Hobbit” on account of his diminutive stature.
On Friday, June 10th, following Mexico’s CONCACAF destruction of Cuba—more on that in a minute—the five banned players were flown to Los Angeles to undergo further drug testing.
A special CONCACAF council will decide the fate of these players and whether Mexico should be allowed to replace them once more information has been collected regarding the drug use.
On the same day that the scandal broke, Mexican football site FMF State of Mind announced that an as-of-yet unnamed French team, thought to be Paris St. Germain, made an offer for Ochoa. His club, America, accepted the offer. Whether the news will affect this transfer remains unclear.
Just hours after the scandal hit news outlets, a weakened Mexico side took on Cuba in a CONCACAF Gold Cup match. It was the worst thing to happen to the Cuban people since Fidel Castro declared everyone with an opinion an enemy of the state.
The final score: Mexico 5-0 Cuba.
Chicharito scored a brace, bringing his goal total for the tournament to five. He previously scored a hat trick in the Aztecs 5-0 castigation of El Salvador. Fellow striker Giovani dos Santos also scored a brace, while third striker Aldo de Nigris scored his fourth international goal for El Tricolor in 2011.
Mexico has won its only two CONCACAF Gold Cup 2011 matches with a combined score line of 10-0. The new Golden Generation of Mexican footballers seems, on the surface, to be living up to its name.
However, while beating El Salvador and Cuba 5-0 each looks good on paper, neither of these teams is particularly good.
In fact, Mexico doesn’t stand to meet a team that can genuinely challenge it on the international stage unless it comes up against the United States or Honduras, the only other teams in the tournament to have made the 2010 World Cup.
The real mettle of these Mexican players comes under true duress in July, when the team faces Chile, Peru and Uruguay in quick succession. From Chile’s Alexis Sanchez to Uruguay’s terrifying flying three of Luis Suarez, Diego Forlan and Edinson Cavani, these teams boast world-class talent to challenge and even topple El Tricolor.
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