Reuters / Chinese coaches and officials are panicking that meat-free diets imposed on Olympic athletes outside their training camps are hampering their performances in the lead-up to the London Games.
Chinese athletes have been ordered to minimize the risk of accidental doping from clenbuterol-tainted meat this year by steering clear of pork, lamb and beef.
The coach of China’s women’s volleyball team, however, has blamed three weeks on a vegetarian diet for his team’s four straight defeats at the recent world grand prix tournament in Ningbo.
“They have showed significant decline in their strength and fitness,” Yu Juemin told Beijing News after China lost in three sets to the United States July 1. “We dared not eat pork when we come out of our training camp for the tournament because we are afraid of clenbuterol.”
The ban on meat products came from the China’s Sports Ministry this year and followed a warning from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) issued last November about contaminated meat in China and Mexico.
“WADA’s message to athletes competing in these countries remains the same: eat only in restaurants and cafeterias that have been approved by your federation and/or event organizer,” it read.
An acquatics sports official recently said all the 196 athletes in his charge had not eaten pork — a staple food for Chinese — for 40 days, and were surviving on fish and protein powder, state news agency Xinhua reported.