Mexico Doping Scandal

9 Jun

Oh boy. What a mess. I was so excited to hear that Juventus is playing Club America here in NYC on July 26th. Getting so Memo Ochoa vs. Gigi Buffon? Awesome, right? However,sad news just came down the pike.

How will Mexico cope after scandal?

By Jeff Carlisle

With the news that five members of Mexico’s Gold Cup squad have tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol, the immediate question that arises — aside from the players’ guilt or innocence — is: How will this affect Mexico’s chances of winning the tournament?

The answer is that even if El Tri are allowed to replace the five players — there will be a meeting of CONCACAF’s national team committee Tuesday to decide whether that is the case — the removals do cut deeply into the team’s depth. They could be fatal to the team’s Gold Cup aspirations.

The five suspended players are goalkeeper Memo Ochoa, forward Christian “Hobbit” Bermudez, forward Sinha, defender Edgar Duenas and defender Francisco “Maza” Rodriguez, and the speculation on the part of the Mexican Football Federation is that the quintet ate some tainted meat. Of the five, only Ochoa and Rodriguez were regular starters, although Sinha was a regular before the death of his father just before the start of the tournament.

Of these three, the biggest loss is Ochoa. While there have been accusations that the Club America netminder is highly overrated, his 45 caps easily make him the most experienced goalkeeper at the disposal of manager Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre. Ochoa’s backups, Toluca’s Alfredo Talavera and Monterrey’s Jonathan Orozco, each have a solitary cap to their name. It also makes the decision to drop Cruz Azul goalkeeper Jesus Corona before the tournament — he was excluded for head-butting an opposition assistant coach during Cruz Azul’s playoff defeat to Monarcas Morelia — all the more fateful.

Fortunately, whomever de la Torre picks to replace Ochoa will have the chance to get a few games under his belt prior to the knockout rounds. But you can bet that should Talavera or Orozco make a blunder that ends up knocking El Tri out of the tournament, fans ultimately will point to Chicken-Gate as the reason.

As for Rodriguez, he has a ready-made replacement in Rafa Marquez, who is healthy again after aggravating a groin injury while with his club, the New York Red Bulls. The original plan was for Marquez to be rested, but the central defensive pairing of Rodriguez and Hector Moreno looked so sharp that de la Torre opted to keep Marquez on the bench. Now he’ll get his chance.

The positive in all this — if it can be categorized as such — is that the suspension of Sinha will allow de la Torre to do what fans have been calling for all along, namely insert Giovani dos Santos into the withdrawn forward spot behind Chicharito Hernandez on a permanent basis. That position was occupied by Sinha until his aforementioned and unfortunate family situation forced him to temporarily leave the team, yet the Toluca attacker had not looked sharp at all in the run-up to the tournament. In his stead, dos Santos has looked to be operating near his peak. Now de la Torre is spared the torment of telling his former protege at club level that he’s being dropped to the bench due to poor performance.

As for Duenas and Bermudez, they didn’t figure to see much playing time, but the loss of the latter player leaves Mexico short of replacements for dos Santos should he be suspended or injured during the tournament. That situation could be alleviated if El Tri are allowed to replace the five suspended players, but either way, it is a weakened Mexico side that will soldier on in the Gold Cup.

Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for He is also the author of “Soccer’s Most Wanted II: The Top 10 Book of More Glorious Goals, Superb Saves and Fantastic Free-Kicks.” He can be reached at


9 Responses to “Mexico Doping Scandal”

  1. suzanne June 9, 2011 at 10:50 pm #

    i’m sure you can imagine how upset i am. really, memo?! really?! as much as i am meh to the whole mexican team aspect of it (reverse 5-0 would be awesome this year) there is some serious craziness around this. 5 players all being this stupid?! i don’t know what to think. i am sooooooooooooooo disappointed in memo if this turns out to be self-inflicted

    • headbandsandheartbreak June 9, 2011 at 11:00 pm #

      I was thinking of you when I saw this. What a nightmare. They’re claiming they ate tainted meat. Um….

      ETA: Apparently there has been issues with clenbuteral in meat in Mexico.

      • suzanne June 9, 2011 at 11:09 pm #

        apparently some biker (like tour de france type) claimed this before and wasn’t banned. i really don’t know what to think. i mean, it has been said many times that mexico adds this to their meat, but at the same time, really? it’s like snl.

        Really memo? really? you’re a keeper and took a “slimming aid”? Really, you just get on the national coach’s good side and pull this bs? Reall?

        • suzanne June 9, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

          but also, thanks for the cute memo picture. it is staving off the depression of having NO ONE else to watch in the gold cup besides our boy (and that chicharito kid. he’s gonna be good when he grows up :9 )

          • suzanne June 9, 2011 at 11:12 pm #

            our boys that is…all of our good american boys who are awesome!!

          • GinaM June 9, 2011 at 11:16 pm #

            My question is what does this drug do to ateletes? Is like a drug they took to enance their performance or like personal drug? It could have been in meats there so many perservatives and chemicals in foods these days I wouldn’t be surprised.

            • suzanne June 9, 2011 at 11:22 pm #

              it’s supposedly some kind of “slimming” aid. and it’s banned. that’s all i really know. though why a keeper would need something like this….

              • June 11, 2011 at 10:46 pm #

                GK’s don’t work at the same rate as field players. That’s why announcers joke around when a GK comes running upfield for any reason. According to the wiki, it is normally a brochodilator, but is used in some countries to enhance the lean meat in food stock. The increase in metabolism that it creates alters the muscle to fat ratio, hence an athlete would be inclined to use something like that to enhance his or her own performance capability. Especially someone, like a GK, who doesn’t have the same work rate as the other players.

                • emily June 15, 2011 at 11:40 pm #

                  crap!!! more email! agghhhhhh

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