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NFL players warned: Steroids injected in meat could cause them to fail drug tests


(NaturalNews) The National Football League (NFL) and the NFL Players Association recently sent a letter warning NFL players that consuming meat while traveling in Mexico or China could cause them to test positive for performance enhancing drugs.

The drug in question, clenbuterol, is banned for use in the United States, Mexico, China and many other countries. But illegal use of it as a growth-promoter is still widespread among Mexican and Chinese ranchers.

"Players are warned to be aware of this issue when traveling to Mexico and China," said the drug-testing program's independent administrator in the memo recently sent to NFL players. "Please take caution if you decide to consume meat, and understand that you do so at your own risk."

No remedy for affected players

Clenbuterol is a steroid that can be used to promote muscle building and weight loss, and has been banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The WADA acknowledges that in some cases, consuming clenbuterol-tainted meat is enough to trigger a positive drug test.

"Consuming large quantities of meat while visiting those particular countries may result in a positive test," the NFL memo reads.

The memo offers no remedy for players who falsely test positive due to eating contaminated food. Instead, it simply reiterates NFL policy that "Players are responsible for what is in their bodies."

The warning was likely inspired by the case of NFL player Duane Brown, who tested positive for clenbuterol last year after eating beef on a trip to Mexico. He was suspended for 10 games, but finally managed to get the penalty dropped after a months-long appeal.

Earlier this year, boxer Francisco Vargas also tested positive for clenbuterol. Earlier cases include the banning of five players on the Mexican national soccer team prior to the Gold Cup, and the stripping of the Tour de France title from Alberto Contador. All these athletes blamed the test results on tainted meat.

How can YOU avoid hormone-laced meat?

Unfortunately, hormone-tainted meat isn't just a problem for athletes, or for people living in or traveling to Mexico or China. In a globalized economy, agricultural products including meat are now shipped all over the world.

Short of going vegetarian or buying meat only from local farmers, there's no practical way to avoid Mexican or Chinese meat. Recently, Congress voted to repeal a law that had required retailers to label pork and beef products with country-of-origin information. The vote came after repeated rulings by the World Trade Organization (WTO) that such labeling constituted an illegal trade barrier. If the U.S. did not repeal the law, the WTO authorized Canada and Mexico to levy sanctions of more than $1 billion per year.

Of course, clenbuterol isn't the only hormone to worry about. Though clenbuterol is banned, the FDA permits six other hormones in non-poultry "food animals." The natural hormones estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, and the synthetic hormones trenbolone acetate, progestin melengestrol acetate and zeranol are all permitted. These hormones are used to promote faster growth and/or leaner meat. Dairy products might also contain recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), which boosts milk production.

The FDA also allows the use of non-hormonal growth-promoting drugs, such as ractopamine. Although ractopamine is not permitted for use in humans, it can be used in animals shortly before slaughter, and is often detected in meat. Factory farms also make widespread use of antibiotics, both to promote growth and to treat animals for the rampant infections that spread in crowded, unsanitary conditions. This can lead not just to antibiotics in food, but is a major factor driving the evolution of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

The use of hormones and drugs, including antibiotics, is banned in the production of meat, dairy and eggs certified organic.

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