Leading Chinese sports officials promised to step up efforts on doping control at the upcoming 10th National Games, to be held from October 12 to 23 in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province.
The number of drug tests will increase by as much as 20 per cent at the Games compared with the last National Games four years ago, signalling a strong message that anyone who takes the drug will find it extremely hard to avoid detection.
"Securing a clean National Games is the most important factor of a successful Games," said Liu Peng, director of China's State General Administration of Sports. "We will do more tests before and during the Games, and we will conduct tests on Human Growth Hormone (HGH) for the first time in our history of National Games."
Liu added that they have the facilities to test for HGH, and that they will conduct tests based on the World Anti-doping Agency(WADA) standards.
To fulfil the commitment, the drug-testing department of the organizing committee for the National Games was set up this February. The department's 50 workers are composed of both drug testers from Beijing and Jiangsu.
"The National Games is the most significant sports event before the 2008 Beijing Olympics," Liu was quoted as saying. "If we had drug-taking incidents, it will undermine the image of National Games as well as the preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics."
"If we could not control drug violations in a domestic event, how can we do any better at the Olympic Games?"
To combat the problem with athletes using drugs, a regulation, especially targeted at the National Games, was issued.
According to the anti-drug regulations, athletes who fail to submit information on his whereabouts and those who miss the drug test will be banned from the National Games. A second violation will result in the athlete being slapped with a minimum two-year ban in any sports competition.
If the athlete fails the drug test more than four times in the same sport, all the athletes in the sport will be sanctioned from competing at the National Games.
"The drug testing department will conduct doping tests in all the 357 events of the 32 sports," Liu said. "Forty-seven drug-testing stations will be set up during the Games, although the events will be held by 13 cities of Jiangsu, which makes the testing work more difficult."
It is estimated that during the Games, about 110 test samples will be sent to the laboratories each day and the number could reach 200 in the busiest days.
"During the Games, the test laboratories will work for 24 hours a day, and all the staff are under training now," Liu said.
Compared with last year, the investment from the government on anti-doping measures has increased 60 per cent in 2005.
The strict anti-doping campaign has already started before the 10th Games.
This June, the Hubei weightlifting team was banned from the National Games since six weightlifters of the team were found to have collectively used banned substances. A two years' ban was handed to them and their coaches were slapped with a lifetime ban. The team was also suspended for one year from both national and international competitions.
In September, a Chinese cyclist and an equestrian rider were each banned from competition for two years for doping offences.
Zeng Liqing, a female cyclist from East China's Fujian Province, tested positive for the blood booster EPO in an out-of-competition check-up on March 25, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Xu Xianyu's horse Chariot also tested positive for the anti-inflammatory drug Diclofenac on June 12, it said.
Zeng was fined US$500. Her Australian coach, Martin Vinnicombe, was fined US$600 and banned from coaching in China for four years, the report said.
Chariot, a horse owned by the Shenzhen Gangtai Jockey Club, was suspended from racing for one year. The club was also banned for one year from entering any competition, it said.
WADA has also promised to send a team to observe and offer advice on the best techniques to enhance China's efforts to fight against drug use.
In 2004, China publicized its anti-doping enforcement measures in an effort to restore a reputation damaged by a string of doping scandals in the 1990s.
History of national Games
The 1st National Games:
Time: 1959, September 13 - October 3.
Number of athletes: 10658
Mu Xiangxiong broke the men's 100m breaststroke world record in 1 mins 11.1 secs. Airplane parachute Jump: Guo Xin'e, Mei Yan, Zhang Jingwen broke the women's 1000m group jump record.
Chen Ronng broke the 50m/100m rifle world record.
Avigation model: Zhao Jiazhen, Wang Yongxi broke the world record.
The 2nd National Games:
Time: 1965, September 11- September 28.
Number of athletes: 5922
Times of breaking world record: 9
The 3rd National Games:
Time: 1975, September 12 - September 28.
Number of athletes: 12497
Times of breaking world record: 6
The 4th National Games:
Time: 1979, September 15 - September 30
Number of athletes: 15189
Times of breaking world record: 5
Times of breaking Asian record:24
The 5th National Games:
Time: 1983, September 18 - October 1.
Number of athletes: 8943
Times of breaking world record: 3
Times of breaking Asian record: 12
The 6th National Games:
Host: Guangdong Province
Number of athletes: 12400
Time: 1987, November 20 - December 5
Times of breaking world record: 17
Times of breaking Asian record:48
The 7th National Games:
Time: 1993, September 4 - September 15.
Number of athletes: 4228
Times of setting world record: 4
Times of setting Asian record: 93
The 8th National Games:
Time: 1997, October 12 - October 24.
Number of athletes: 7647
Times of breaking world record: 659
Times of breaking Asian record: 367
The 9th National Games:
Host: Guangdong province
Time: 2001, November 11 - November 25
Number of athletes: 12314
Times of breaking world record: 35
Times of breaking Asian record: 41
Source: China Daily