x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Swimmers wary of tainted meat at World Cup in China

Chinese beef and pork have been linked to steroid use, and a recent study by a World Anti-Doping Agency lab found that 22 of 28 travellers returning from China tested positive

As more than 2,000 swimmers, divers and water polo players converge on Shanghai for the World Aquatic Championships, teams are taking precautions against the threat of eating contaminated Chinese meat.

The Australians are hoping to eliminate the threat by shipping in meat from home and avoiding all pork products. Other teams plan to eat only in hotels accredited by Fina, swimming's governing body.

Chinese beef and pork have been linked to steroid use during cattle and pig raising, and a recent study by a World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited lab in Cologne, Germany, found that 22 of 28 travellers returning from China tested positive for low levels of clenbuterol.

Clenbuterol is on the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of banned substances, and athletes who test positive can face bans of up to two years.

Doping is already a sensitive topic at the championships, with the possibility that Cesar Cielo of Brazil will be allowed to defend his 50 and 100-metre freestyle titles despite testing positive for a banned substance - because an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is still pending.

The worlds open on Saturday with diving, while swimming begins on July 24.

Alberto Contador, the Spanish cyclist, tested positive for clenbuterol en route to winning last year's Tour de France, and blamed contaminated meat.

"You cannot control everything you eat all around the world," Cornel Marculescu, the Fina executive director, said recently from Shanghai. "The price is going to be to mostly consume at the hotel."

Some 2,220 swimmers will compete in Shanghai, down from the 2,438 at the last worlds in Rome two years ago after new qualifying standards were introduced for swimming.