Mexico City: Five players in Mexico`s squad at the Concacaf Gold Cup in the United States have tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol, the general secretary of the Mexican Football Federation (Femexfut) Decio de Maria said.
De Maria named the players as goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, defenders Francisco Rodriguez and Edgar Duenas and midfielders Antonio Naelson `Sinha` and Christian Bermudez and said they had all been suspended from the tournament.
He added that any further sanctions, which could include bans of up to two years, would be determined by Femexfut.
"Last night we received the anti-doping analysis of 14 players of the `Tri` (national team) that were done on May 21 and five players showed positive," De Maria told a news conference in Mexico City.
"The substance for which they were positive is Clenbuterol. The players will be withdrawn from (coach) Jose Manuel de la Torre`s team."
De Maria added that Mexico would ask the Concacaf if they could call up replacements.
"We will make a request to the (tournament) organising committee to be able to replace the players since it is an exceptional case," he said.
Concacaf general secretary Chuck Blazer said a meeting of the confederation`s national teams committee, which also serves as the organising committee of the Gold Cup, will be convened on Friday to consider the situation, including possibly allowing Mexico to replace the five players.
Title holders Mexico were due to play Cuba in their second Gold Cup Group A match in Charlotte later on Thursday. They beat El Salvador 5-0 in their opener.
De Maria said Femexfut had informed FIFA and the Gold Cup organisers to open an investigation.
"The cause is believed to be because of (eating) beef or chicken between May 17 and 20 so an investigation will be made with the food suppliers. For the time being we don`t see any negligence by anyone, not even theirs," De Maria added.
"We know there is a health alert throughout the country because of food contaminated with clenbuterol and that will be taken into account for the investigation."
Mexico denied in April that its beef contained clenbuterol days after Germany`s anti-doping agency (NADA) advised against athletes eating products from Mexico because it might increase the risk of involuntary positive doping results.
Clenbuterol can be used to increase speed and muscle mass in animals.
"Here no one has committed a crime but if it was an accident we must prove it so there are no doubts," De Maria said.
"It`s very disagreeable news but we have to abide by the rules. We have a lot to do and we have to face it as coldly as possible."