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Following WADA’s advice on clenbuterol in Mexico and China, UK Anti-Doping contacted the Food Standards Agency (FSA) over the possible risk of contamination for athletes in the UK.
UK Anti-Doping has been reassured that the European Union has stringent rules in place to prevent contamination, particularly when it comes to imported meat from non-EU countries.
The FSA advised:
• The use of beta agonists, such as clenbuterol, is prohibited in the EU for growth promotion in food producing animals. It is, however, authorised for some therapeutic uses, such as treating respiratory diseases in horses and as a muscle relaxant in pregnant cattle, usually during calf delivery. Authorised veterinary medicinal products containing clenbuterol can only be prescribed by a veterinarian.
• The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) carries out extensive surveillance for residues of this substance in UK produce, and imported red meat, including cattle, sheep, pigs, game and horses, and has found no evidence of illegal use.
• The EU prohibition also extends to imports from non-EU countries; therefore meat can only be imported into the EU from non-EU countries if those countries can offer guarantees that the produce meets EU standards. China and Mexico are not eligible to export meat to the EU, with the exception of horsemeat from Mexico.
However, athletes should be wary of consuming large quantities of liver, with the FSA highlighting:
The FSA cannot rule out the possibility that if a large portion of liver is consumed containing clenbuterol at permitted residue limits, urine collected shortly after consumption may contain detectable levels of clenbuterol. This depends on many factors including the amount consumed, the timing of the urine test and the analytical methods used.
There are EU Maximum Residue Limits listed for clenbuterol in bovine tissues (muscle: 0.1μg/kg; 0.5μg/kg for both liver and kidney) under Commission Regulation (EU) 37/2010.