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Athletes Told to Eat Meat with Caution


By Zhu Na

China's elite rowers and sailors haven't been able to chow down on much Gongbao Jiding or meat dumplings of late.

According to a recent report in the Yangtse Evening News, in mid-March, Li Zhongyi (李仲一), an official in charge of safety with the General Administration of Sport's Aquatic Sports Center, revealed that 196 athletes attached to the center hadn't eaten meat for 40 days. The official explained that they were relying on fish and protein powder to meet their dietary requirments.

While in Beijing to sign an agreement with a company that would supply meat to Chinese athletes, Mr Li also noted that "During the Spring Festival, all the dumplings [they ate] were all vegetarian."

The sudden turn to vegetarinism among some of China's best athletes appears to be related to a "meat ban" that some say was issued by the General Administration of Sports on Jan 19 this year.

The rumored new regulations were aimed at preventing athletes from unintentionally ingesiting anything that could later influce the outcome of a drug test. The rules supposedly prohibit athletes from eating pork, beef and lamb outside their training camps and also said that if authorities could not ensure that meat being delivered to the training facility was safe, meat should not be served at all.

The General Administration of Sport has since come out and denied that any such "meat ban" exists.

"The administration has never banned athletes from eating meat. It just reminded them to be on alert," explained Chen Zhiyu (陈志宇), head of the general office of the sport administator's science and education department.

Mr Chen also denied media reports that, quoting Liu Xiang's father, claimed that the well-known Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang hadn't eaten pork for years due to fears that he might accidentally ingest the drug clenbuterol.

"I specially checked this matter with Yang Jimin (杨继敏), the head of the 110-meter hurdles coaching team. He was very angry, he told me Liu Xiang has never stopped eating pork, beef and other kinds of meat," Chen said.

When other athletes were asked about this meat issue by reporters, they said that, "that the situation wasn't that bad and that they'd been able to eat meat."

"Do not worry, we have meat to eat ... but all the meat we eat will be taken to be checked first ... " one media outlet quoted members of the national archery team as saying.

Though one sportsperson did reveal that "When I was on holiday at home for one month, I ate seafood for one month, and did not dare to touch pork, beef and lamb."

Last year, the World Anti-Doping Agency warned athletes to pay attention to what they eat when visiting Mexico or China.

Links and Sources
Yangtse Evening News: 国家队“断肉”40天 千里寻放心猪层层“安检”
Xinhua News Agency: 国家体育总局辟谣禁肉令:刘翔从没断过吃猪肉
Shanghai Times: 曝刘翔喝汤从不放保健药材 回家自带特供生猪肉
China Daily: The meat athletes eat can get them branded as cheats
World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA): Athletes must show caution due to contaminated meat



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