Politics of the Plate: Performance-Enhancing Drumsticks

A steroid used in raising chickens can cause athletes to register false positives on drug tests. So maybe A-Rod just needs to lay off the wings?

Before cluck-clucking at the shortcomings of Alex Rodriguez and the 103 other professional baseball players who, it was revealed this week, had positive urine tests for steroids between 2001 and 2003, take note: If you eat chicken, your urine, too, may have detectable levels of methenolone, one of the drugs for which the athletes tested positive.

In addition to being taken by sluggers hoping to improve their batting averages, methenolone (sold under the trade name Primobolan), is administered to livestock to promote growth.

Gourmet’s James Rodewald, who worked for Sports Illustrated before finding his true calling as a spirits editor (I’ll leave it to you to determine what that has to do with his knowledge of performance-altering substances), brought my attention to a study conducted by researchers at Kings College London. The British scientists analyzed urine from eight men who had eaten chicken injected with the drug and found that half the subjects tested positive for methenolone 24 hours after dining. “Hence, eating meat containing small amounts of injected hormone may constitute a serious liability to the athlete,” concluded the scientists.

The findings leave one big question unanswered: What does eating hormone-laced meat constitute for the rest of us?

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