Doped-up Chinese food sets 2008 Olympic alarm bells ringing

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An interesting article from Asian News about Chinese food and doping ramifications:

BEIJING : Athletes who compete at the 2008 Beijing Olympics face the danger of a positive drugs test if they dine out and eat some of China's chemical-laden foods, a top Chinese doping expert has warned.

Chinese food is contaminated with banned drugs like anabolic steroids to such an extent that the possibility is real, said Yang Shumin, the former head of China's Olympic doping control centre and an expert on anabolic steroids.

"Concern about it goes to the top of the Chinese government," Yang, now a researcher at the doping control centre who also advises the government on food safety, told AFP in an interview on Tuesday.

Athletes caught doping rarely admit their guilt, and most come up with dubious stories about spiked food and drink or medicine that turned out to contain banned substances.
"Those stories could be true in 2008," Yang said.

InChina, food safety is a major issue for the entire population, not justfor the more than 10,000 athletes who will arrive here in August 2008to take part in the Olympics. Many of the hundreds of millions ofChina's farmers buy anabolic steroids for their livestock andantibiotics for their fowl from salesmen who promise better prices forbigger pigs and healthier ducks.

Dangerous pesticides,fertilisers and chemical additives to make the produce more attractivealso combine with heavy metals washed into the food chain throughcontaminated rivers and streams.

Add to that poor hygiene and food handling, and the recipe for regular outbreaks of mass food-poisoning is complete.

Inone recent case that raised Olympic alarm bells, 336 people fell sickin Shanghai in September after eating pork contaminated with anabolicsteroids.

Sales of turbot, a popular flatfish, were also thismonth banned in parts of eastern China after they were found to containcarcinogens from antibiotics.

Other food scares have centeredon duck eggs dyed with dangerous chemicals and snails infested byparasites that sent about 90 Beijing diners to hospital suffering frommeningitis.

Although it is aware of the wider problem, theChinese leadership has made the Olympics its focus, staking itsprestige on staging a great, doping-free Games.

"The Chinesegovernment cares. They don't want to lose face because of doping. Andthat does not just apply to Chinese athletes. It applies to allathletes," said Yang.

"So we are doing our best to prevent any drugs getting into athletes' systems."

Thegovernment has issued what is calls a "dead order" – one that must beobeyed at all costs – on food safety at the Olympic village where mostof the athletes will stay during the August 8-24 games.

Any Chinese official found responsible for a lapse in food security can expect no mercy.

Ahigh-tech surveillance system will be used to trace the entire foodsupply chain for the athletes, from production and processing todelivery at the village.

But the problems deepen once athletes step beyond the sanitised borders of the village.

Chineseofficials were stunned to hear that athletes taking part in the WorldJunior Championships in Beijing in August went looking to eat raw meaton the streets.

"This is very dangerous," he said. "Topathletes are very clear about this. They won't buy anything they arenot sure of. But inexperienced athletes could be caught." -AFP/de

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Mike Young

Mike Young

Founder of ELITETRACK at Athletic Lab
Mike has a BS in Exercise Physiology from Ohio University, an MSS in Coaching Science from Ohio University & a PhD in Biomechanics from LSU. Additionally, he has been recognized as a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength & Conditioning Association, a Level 3 coach by USA Track & Field, a Level 2 coach by USA Weightlifting.
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