10th December 2018

‘Contaminated meat’ defence used in trenbolone case

Mexican racewalker Maria Guadalupe Gonzalez-Romero is arguing that contaminated meat caused her October adverse analytical finding (AAF) for trenbolone, and it is understood that the Mexican Olympic Committee (MOC) is supporting her case. Gonzalez-Romero, known as Lupita, was notified of her October AAF last month by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). She denies doping, but claims that she ate meat in the days before the test.

Trenbolone acetate is used to improve muscle mass, feed efficiency, and mineral absorption in cattle. It is thought to be the first time that an athlete has claimed that contaminated meat caused a trenbolone AAF, although similar arguments have been used in relation to clenbuterol.

Clenbuterol is still used in animal feed despite being banned in the US since 1991 and by the European Union since 1996 – it has a Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) set by the same body. In 2011, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) sent a warning to athletes that food in Mexico and China could be contaminated with the substance.

Clenbuterol is not a ‘specified substance’ on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Prohibited List, which means that there is no excuse for an AAF – even if the amount found is lower than required to produce an active physiological effect. In 2013, Alberto Contador found this out to his cost.

Last year, a documentary for ARD found that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided against pursuing clenbuterol cases, after low levels of the substance were found through retesting of samples given at the Beijing 2008 Olympics. Trenbolone is also not a ‘specified substance’, which means that any amount in a sample – however small – will trigger an AAF.

Gonzalez-Romero won a silver medal in the 20km race walk at the London 2017 IAAF World Championships. She also won silver in the same event at the Rio 2016 Olympics, and a gold at the 2015 Pan American Games.

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