For some reason, this story, reproduced in its entirety, caught my attention last week: “The Australian Michael Rogers can race again after cycling’s governing body accepted that meat he ate in China probably caused his positive doping test.
“Rogers, 34, an Olympic bronze medalist, raced last October in China, where clenbuterol is widely administered to livestock. He tested positive days later at the Japan Cup.”
I’d never heard of Michael Rogers or clenbuterol and have little interest in professional bicycling. Yet the 51-word article, oddly complete in itself, seemed a parable for the modern world, with its randomly connected elements of big-time athletics, widespread drug use and Chinese food production.
“Clen”, it turns out, has a lot of uses. It relieves asthma, makes horses run faster and cows grow quicker, gives athletes bigger muscles and celebrities smaller waistlines. It was made famous by Kirk Radomiski, the NY Mets felonious batboy and Major League steroid supplier, and by the anorexic look of Victoria Beckham, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. It is discussed ad nauseum on bodybuilding web forums and provides one more way for China to poison its people in its relentless push for economic growth.
Remember when we took drugs to take us out of our bodies, instead of because we were obsessed with how those bodies looked? It seems a long arc of history from a bunch of stoned hippies trying to levitate the Pentagon to a man eating a steak in China and testing positively for anabolic steroids in Japan.