The perfect Chinese remedy for athletes struggling to recover from injury is deer penis. However during the Beijing Olympics taking this remedy can land athletes into trouble as it may contain banned substances.
Chinese Olympic officials have advised national athletes not to take traditional remedies because some contain banned substances such as herbal ephedrine, a stimulant.
The perfect remedy is "Deer's penis," said Wang Cheng, a graduate in traditional medicine, proffering a desiccated sample across the counter of the Tongrentang traditional Chinese medicine store in central Beijing.
"Mix it with some alcohol, take it every one or two days, and you will soon feel better," The Times quoted Wang, as saying.
However Wang was stumped when asked what her remedy contained. Therein lies a problem for Chinese authorities anxious to avoid a doping scandal during the Olympics.
The Chinese Olympic Committee first published a list of remedies containing banned substances in 2005 and updated it in December. The State Food and Drug Administration ordered traditional medicine-makers in May to print a label that read "Athletes use with caution" on many products.
"In the past many accidents were caused because athletes took these herbs not knowing they could cause problems," a spokeswoman for the administration said.
"The reason why we carried out this work is to realise our promise. We want to make the Beijing Olympics fair, open and clean," she added.
Last week China reinforced that message when Ouyang Kunpeng, its top men's backstroke swimmer, was given a life ban for testing positive for clenbuterol, a muscle-building agent.
"No matter how excellent an athlete is, he or she will be severely punished if they test positive," Xinhua quoted Yuan Hong, the head of the Chinese Olympic Committee anti-doping commission, as saying.
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