Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Tuesday, May 20, 2003

34 Chinese Athletes Tangled in Doping Net

Thirty-four Chinese athletes have fallen from grace as Chinese sports authorities heated up the campaign to crack down drug cheats.


Thirty-four Chinese athletes have fallen from grace as Chinese sports authorities heated up the campaign to crack down drug cheats.

Lin Na, who won the women's 800m and 1,500m titles at the 9th National Games in 2001, and Liu Huyuan, one of China's top men's distance runners, were among those caught in 2002.

Fourteen of the exposed doping offenders were weightlifters, 10 were from track and field events, Shi Kangcheng, a Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) official who oversees the nation's anti-doping program, told Xinhua on Monday.

"China has always been merciless in fighting drug cheats, whoever the offender is," Shi said.

A total of 4,652 urine tests were carried out at all levels in China in 2002, said Shi.

And 358 blood tests were carried out to check EPO, or erythropoietin, a substance that stimulates the production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells in human's body.

In 2001, the COC conducted 5,121 tests, including 1,349 during the 9th National Games, while 23 athletes turned out positive.

Over 800 tests were carried out by local sports bodies in 2002,three times the number of tests done the previous year.

"Except those who are still under investigation, the offenders have been penalized," said Shi.

Eight athletes, including Lin Na and Liu Huyuan, were suspended for two years, said a COC statement.

Two others were imposed a three-month and six-month ban respectively.

Lin's coach Zhang Juan, charged with a second doping violation,was banned for life and fined 40,000 yuan (4,836 US dollars).

"To our surprise, more or less, not a single swimmer turned outpositive last year," said Shi.

Shi credited zero doping incidents in swimming to better education about the banned drugs and stringent anti-doping measures taken in recent years.

"Chinese testing and punishments are sometimes more rigorous than those demanded by the International Olympic Committee (IOC),"he said.

In addition to enforcing IOC sanctions that bar athletes who test positive from competition, China also levies fines on doping offenders.

China has been tainted by accusations of widespread doping since seven Chinese swimmers tested positive for steroids at the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima. Four years later, a swimmer and hercoach were caught carrying banned substances, while another four failed tests during the world championships in Perth, Australia.

Shi said China will strictly enforce the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) code in order to sweep out doping from sport.

"We are determined to eradicate the cancer," he said.

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