When traveling abroad, it’s not uncommon to get some sort of health warning: Don’t drink the water; don’t eat the street meat; don’t buy raw seafood from some dude in an alley. But though making some questionable food choices might wreak havoc on your GI tract, for NFL players it could earn them a suspension.
Last week, the NFL sent out a memo warning all of its players that “consuming large quantities of meat” in Mexico or China brings with it the risk of testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. “Please take caution if you decide to consume meat, and understand that you do so at your own risk,” the league wrote, according to ESPN.
The problem stems from a drug known as clenbuterol. Sports organizations have banned it because it can be used for muscle building and weight loss. Many countries – Mexico and China included – have also banned its use in food-producing animals, but apparently the substance still gets used illegally and finds its way into the food supply.
The NFL has already seen real world repercussions. Last season, Duane Brown, an offensive tackle for the Houston Texans, spent months fighting a 10-game suspension for clenbuterol, eventually getting his name cleared after proving he had recently been to Mexico. And this year, the NFL has a game scheduled in Mexico City on November 21 – meaning two whole teams of players risk exposure to the anabolic agent.
But though a 10-game suspension and the lost pay that comes with it are pretty terrible, is it really worse than being sent to Mexico and not being allowed to eat carnitas? Sounds like it’s about time for the NFLPA to renegotiating its agreement.