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May 21, 2014

Mexico players told not to eat beef

FC's Alejandro Moreno breaks down the biggest challenge facing Mexico in the World Cup: chemistry.

Mexico coach Miguel Herrera instructed players on his final 23-man roster not to eat beef before or during the 2014 World Cup because of concerns over ingesting the banned, performance-enhancing drug clenbuterol.

The Mexican team had issues with clenbuterol -- a muscle-building drug sometimes used to fatten cattle in the country -- during the 2011 Gold Cup when five players tested positive for the substance. All of those players were cleared after the World Anti-Doping Agency determined there was compelling evidence to show the players had eaten contaminated meat.

"Our training center has determined, based on what happened in the past, that red meat shouldn't be eaten," said Herrera, who added he told gave players the instructions not to eat meat more than a month ago. Herrera has also asked his players to abstain from sexual intercourse during the tournament.

Miguel Ponce, a defender who just joined the team to replace injured midfielder Juan Carlos Medina, admitted he'd eaten red meat recently.

"I ate a few tacos, but I hope there is no problem," said Ponce. "From now on I'll follow what's been requested."

It's not the first time the presence of clenbuterol in meat has been at the center of doping contreversy in professional sports. Tour de France winner Alberto Contador was stripped of his title after testing positive for the substance during the 2010 edition of the race, which he won. Contador claimed he'd eaten contaminated steaks, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport found him guilty of taking clenbuterol as a performance enhancer.

Mexico plays its first match of the 2014 World Cup on June 13 vs. Cameroon. They are in Group A, which also includes Brazil and Croatia.

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