Chinese athletes preparing for the 2012 London Olympics have been banned from eating pork over fears they may consume clenbuterol – the prohibited performance enhancing substance that led to Tour de France winner Alberto Contador's recent sports ban.
The Chinese General Administration of Sport has banned athletes from eating pork products after it was revealed that clenbuterol, which is also known as ‘lean meat powder’, was found in pork products designated for athletes, according to a blog entry by Olympic rower Huang Wenyi.
The toxic substance, which is administered to livestock to bulk them up and produce leaner meat, has been found on numerous occasions in pork products in the People’s Republic of China.
The anabolic agent is also illegally used by athletes to help build muscle and burn fat.
“Today the Administration issued a notice to athletes prohibiting the eating of pork, cattle is even out, we cannot eat sheep, we can only eat chicken, fish and other white meat,” the Olympian wrote on her blog.
“Is there any food safe to eat in China?” she added.
According to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which conducts research for the development of anti-doping capabilities in sporting environments, clenbuterol is a “prohibited substance.”
“It is possible that certain circumstances the presence of a low level of clenbuterol in an athlete sample can be the result of food contamination. However, each case is different and all elements need to be taken into account,” said the WADA website.
Earlier this week, three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador was banned from competing for two years and stripped of his 2010 title after testing positive for clenbuterol.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected his claim that the positive result was caused by eating contaminated meat during a 2010 Tour rest day.
Chinese Olympic judo champion Tong Wen also blamed pork chops for the positive clenbuterol test that saw her banned from the sport for two years in 2010.
FoodQualityNews.com approached the General Administration of Sports in relation to the ban, but it was unable to comment before publication.
The toxic substance can cause headaches, nausea and heart palpitations in humans.
Despite the fact clenbuterol is banned by the Chinese government for use in agriculture, its illegal use by Chinese farmers is well documented.
According to an industry report, more than half of all food processing and packaging firms in mainland China failed inspections in 2011.
FoodQualityNews.com reported earlier this week that 51% of food facilities were not up to standard. Chemical contaminations, including the use of clenbuterol, are also becoming commonplace, according to the AsiaInspection data.