China's impressive haul of gold medals at the Beijing Olympics was tarnished somewhat today when it was revealed that 'abnormally high levels of lead' were found in the first-place medallions.
The medals, which were supposed to be made entirely of gold, were instead found to be composed of 99% lead alloy and coated with a gold-colored lead-based paint.
The shocking revelations roiled the Olympic complex today and sent officials looking for answers from the Chinese manufacturer of the medals, the Wuhan One Hundred Percent Gold Medal Corporation.
'We are trying to determine how exactly so much lead got into those gold medals,' said a spokesman for Wuhan , China 's largest exporter of gold medals. 'Until we do, we are urging all first-place athletes not to lick, taste or suck on their medals.'
The news about the potentially toxic gold medals spread panic among Olympic champions, especially U.S. swimming phenom Michael Phelps.
'I am very, very concerned about my extensive contact with gold medals,' Mr. Phelps told reporters. 'But what am I supposed to do? Stop being so awesome?'
In other Olympic news, China 's hopes for winning more medals in women's gymnastics were dashed when one of their leading gymnasts vanished down a bathtub drain on Tuesday.
Immediately after Jiang Qimin's disappearance, Beijing authorities launched a search for the acclaimed seven-pound athlete.
Jiang had been the subject of speculation earlier this week as many foreign observers doubted China 's claims that the two-foot-tall gymnast was sixteen years old.
In an interview with NBC's Bob Costas on Monday, Jiang sparked controversy with this response to a question about her age: 'I want my sippy cup.'