Athletes across sports have blamed tainted meat for positive clenbuterol tests in the past, and this morning, a cryptic-looking memo from the NFL and the NFLPA surfaced, warning players traveling to China and Mexico that eating meat there could result in a positive test.
Clenbuterol is a supplement occasionally used by cattle farmers to accelerate growth. It’s banned in the EU, Mexico, and the USA, but it’s apparently still used commonly enough in Mexico that there have been two recent incidents of team-wide clenbuterol positives in the country. Authorities were able to source the clenbuterol to tainted meat in both cases.
According to a report from ESPN, Texans tackle Duane Brown popped a positive last year after a bye-week trip to Mexico, and the league was able to determine that this was due to tainted meat:
Texans left tackle Duane Brown tested positive for clenbuterol last season after a bye-week trip to Mexico, during which he ate Mexican beef, sources told ESPN.
After a months-long process, Brown was finally cleared in April, sources said, allowing him to avoid what would have been a 10-game suspension. His case serves as a cautionary tale for other players.
This was a problem for the professional cycling peloton when there was a WorldTour race in Beijing, and a handful of racers tested positive, prompting several teams to stop eating meat in China or Mexico.