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Day 5: Du Toit clinches third gold, Games hit by more doping offenses
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08:27, September 12, 2008

Natalie du Toit stayed on course to win five gold medals at the Beijing Paralympics by winning the women's 200-meter individual medley on Thursday as the Games were hit by more doping offenses.

The South African amputee swimmer clocked 2 minutes 27.83 seconds to grab her third gold in Beijing, shaving more than two seconds off her own record in her class.

"I just went out there and had a good race. I just enjoyed it. I felt good in the warm-up so to get out there and have a good race was a bonus," said du Toit.

Du Toit, who had won the 100m freestyle and 100m butterfly earlier this week, will also take part in 50m freestyle and 400m freestyle.

The first female amputee to compete in an able-bodied Olympics, du Toit finished 16th among 25 competitors in the 10-kilometer open-water swim last month at the Beijing Games.

Meanwhile, China pulled away in the race for most medals won, leading the count with 33 golds, 37 silvers and 26 bronzes. Britain was second on the ladder with 27 golds, 15 silvers and 14 bronzes. The United States was third on 18-12-14.

Table tennis players again provided the bulk of China's gold rush. Feng Panfeng, Chen Gang, Ge Yang and Lei Lina won their respective classes on Thursday, bringing the host nation's total to eight golds in the sport.

But Zhang Xiaoling, a 51-year-old veteran who was seeking her sixth straight Paralympic singles title, failed to materialize her dream and had to settle for a bronze in her class.

The home crowd had more to cheer about at the National Stadium, better known as the Bird's Nest, when Guo Wei (men's discus throw), Mi Na (women's shot put) and Qing Suping (women's javelin throw) earned three gold medals for China.

Elsewhere, Chinese pair Zhou Yangjing and Shan Zilong paddled their way to victory in mixed double sculls, and the swimming quartet of Du Jianping, Tang Yuan, He Junquan and Yang Yuanrun took the men's 4x50m freestyle title.

These sporting achievements, however, were overshadowed by a string of doping scandals.

Facourou Sissoko of Mali and Liudmyla Osmanova of Ukraine, both powerlifting competitors, have been expelled from the Paralympics after testing positive for steroids, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said.

German wheelchair basketball player Ahmet Coskun had also been kicked out of the Games as traces of finasteride were found in his urine sample taken on August 23.

The German National Paralympic Committee said that although finasteride is a non-performance enhancement medication, it can be used to cover up drugs that do. Coskun, 33, insisted the positive result might result from using a drug for hair loss treatment.

That brought to four the number of athletes caught using illegal substances. Pakistani powerlifter Naveed Ahmed Butt had been banned after failing a doping test on Sept. 4.

The IPC said it plans to conduct 1,100 tests at the Sept. 6-17 Games. So far, 461 tests, both in and out of competition, have been carried out.

More than 4,000 athletes from 147 countries and regions compete here in 20 sports in five different categories of disability, with a total of 472 gold medals at stake.

Source: Xinhua

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