(Fixes third par to ...'his team's four straight'...)
SHANGHAI, July 3 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 minimise 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
"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 on Sunday.
"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,"
An acquatics sports official recently said the all 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.
China has been plagued by tainted food scandals in recent
Last August, a Chinese court sentenced seven people to jail
and handed down a suspended death penalty for selling
clenbuterol to pork farmers.
China has managed to clear up its once poor reputation for
doping in sport in recent years and, given the WADA warning, it
is unlikely athletes will risk eating meat outside their
One patriotic pig farmer in Jiangsu province thinks his meat
may be the answer as China prepares to try and match their medal
table-topping performance in Beijing in 2008.
Hearing about the ban earlier this year, Liu Qingya donated
three tonnes of untainted pork to his country's athletes.
"My pork is free from clenbuterol. It tastes as fresh as
those in the 1960s," Liu told Reuters by telephone.
"I only feed my pigs with corn, soybeans and wheat brans,"
he added. "I am happy to donate my pigs to athletes who bring
honour to our country."
(Reporting by Shanghai Newsroom, editing by Nick Mulvenney)