An athlete who tested positive to an anabolic steroid has claimed that Mexican meat is to blame.
Guadalupe González, a 29-year-old racewalker who won a silver medal for Mexico at the 2016 Olympic Games, was found to have trenbolone in her urine after she was subjected to a surprise doping test in October.
The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), an agency founded last year to combat doping in athletics, announced last month that González had tested positive to the steroid and that she had received a temporary suspension.
Trenbolone is fed to cattle in Mexico to boost metabolism and burn fat, thereby increasing yields. It is similar to clenbuterol, a drug that is also fed to or injected in cattle and which has been found in hundreds of athletes’ urine.
González strongly denies she took the drug, which is also used by athletes to increase muscle mass, but says that she did eat meat in the days leading up to the test, which was administered by the National Anti-Doping Commission on the request of the World Anti-Doping Agency.
The racewalker is determined to prove her innocence and a legal team will plead her case to sporting authorities. González’s quest to clear her name will be supported by the Mexican Olympic Committee (COM).
“Lupita is a member of the Olympic Committee and has our complete moral support so that she can get through this difficult moment,” COM president Carlos Padilla Becerra told the newspaper El Universal.
“We have to wait to see what the final decision is . . .We’re going to give her the benefit of the doubt as a distinguished daughter of the Olympic family,” he added.
If González is found guilty of being a drug cheat “it would be tragic because it would mean that she can’t be at the  Olympic Games in Tokyo,” Padilla said.
The Mexico City native, who also won a gold medal in the 20-kilometer walk at the 2015 Pan American Games and Silver at the 2017 World Championships, is not the first Mexican athlete to blame meat for a positive drug test.
Boxer Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez failed a doping test for clenbuterol in February but only received a six-month suspension from the Nevada Athletic Commission after he argued that contaminated meat he ate in Mexico was the culprit.
In 2011, more than 100 soccer players at the FIFA U-17 World Cup held in Mexico were found to have clenbuterol in their urine, which was also attributed to meat consumption.
The same year, five soccer players representing Mexico at the Gold Cup tournament in the United States tested positive to the steroid but were exonerated after they too argued that Mexican meat was to blame.
NFL footballers who traveled to Mexico in 2016 to play a match were warned to exercise caution with their meal selections due to the high risk of inadvertently ingesting meat containing clenbuterol.
Athletes competing at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Jalisco, were given a similar warning.