With only three days left till the opening ceremony of the 14th bi-annual World Aquatic Championships in Shanghai, the event is already being tainted with controversy.
It’s dejavu all over again for Chinese tournament organizers, as worries of contaminated meat have been raised by many of the participating countries. This time though, the concerns have a lot more foundation.
A study done by “a World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited lab in Cologne, Germany” has found that: “22 of 28 travelers returning from China tested positive for low levels of clenbuterol.”
This chemical has been strongly linked to cows and pigs raised in China, and was at the center of a tainting scandal earlier this year.
Well then, if it is so commonly digested in China, why is it particularly harmful for swimmers? Actually, it’s not so much harmful as it is illegal, according to the rules of the international swimming governing body.
Clenbuterol is on WADA’s list of banned substances as an anabolic agent that builds muscle and burns fat, and athletes who test positive can face bans of up to two years.
This has been a problem for China before, as USA Today has noted extensively:
On the day after his return from a meet in China last year, German table tennis player Dimitrij Ovtcharov tested positive for clenbuterol traces. The 2008 Olympic silver medalist blamed food eaten at his hotel. Hints of clenbuterol showed up in the urine of four other German players who competed at the same tournament, supporting his claim.
Polish canoeist Adam Seroczynski claimed that his positive test at the 2008 Beijing Olympics was the result of “food tampering” by organizers who fed him contaminated meat….
1999, Chinese swimmers Wang Wei and Xiong Guoming blamed a dish of stir-fried pig liver for their out-of-competition clenbuterol positives.
Team Australia and USA have already declared their intention to import meat and other food products to feed their teams, while South Africa, Italy and Holland have notably come out against bringing in outside food to nourish their athletes.
The 14th annual World Swimming Chapionship will run from July 16th-July 31st and will feature 63 nations in 6 different events. Notable swimmers will include: Michael Phelps and….those other people.
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By Patrick Keefe