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Old 12-17-2017
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China banned from weightlifting for a year as chiefs find ‘incidence of doping totally unacceptable’

China banned from weightlifting in Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Decision by the International Weightlifting Federation follows the retesting of anti-doping samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics
The sport has been under pressure to clean up or face being dropped from the Olympics.

The decision by the International Weightlifting Federation followed the retesting of anti-doping samples from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Countries with at least three doping offences from those Olympics were suspended.

Three Chinese athletes were this year stripped of their 2008 Olympic gold medals following retests of samples from the Beijing Games.

Cao Lei, the 75-kilogram champion, Chen Xiexia, the 48kg gold medallist, and Liu Chunhong, who won the 69kg category, were stripped of their titles.

The trio, all aged between 31 and 34, tested positive for the banned GHRP-2, a human growth hormone.

The IWF started pursuing the suspensions before last year’s Olympics, but the process was held up by legal challenges.

Liu Chunhong lifts 158kg to set a world record in the 69kg clean&jerk competition at the 2008 Olympics. Photo: Reuters
Also suspended were Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, Turkey, and Ukraine.

“We have made it clear that the incidence of doping in some areas is totally unacceptable and that our members have a responsibility to ensure clean sport in their countries,” IWF president Tamas Ajan said.

“If they do not fulfil their responsibilities to ensure their lifters are clean then they will lose their right to participate.

“But we will not turn our backs on them; we will continue to work with them, (the World Anti-Doping Agency), and their national anti-doping agencies to support their anti-doping activities and help make cultural change.”

The suspensions could mean a drastically weakened world championships, from November 28 to December 6 in Anaheim, California.

Kazakhstan’s Ilya Ilyin sets a world record in the 233kg clean-and-jerk at the 2012 London Olympics. He is another high-profile athlete banned for taking anabolic steroids. Photo: AP

The IWF said there wouldn’t be any exceptions from the ban to allow individual athletes from the suspended countries to compete, regardless of whether they’ve ever failed a drug test.

Athletics has allowed some athletes from Russia to compete as independents during its ban from that sport for systemic doping.

“The countries will receive official notification about the suspension mid-October and at the IWF there is no possibility to compete as neutral or independent,” IWF spokeswoman Lilla Rozgonyi said.

It’s not the first time the IWF has kicked countries out of major competitions for doping.

Bulgaria and Russia were both barred from last year’s Olympics – Bulgaria after eight of its athletes tested positive for steroids ahead of the European championships, Russia after Wada accused it of widespread drug use and cover-ups.

In June, the International Olympic Committee warned weightlifting to do more to fight doping or risk being cut from the 2024 Paris Games.

IOC president Thomas Bach demanded the IWF “address the massive doping problem” and report back by December.

There have been more than 50 failed tests in weightlifting from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics combined, putting it second only to athletics, which had many more competitors.

In some weightlifting events, all three original medallists were disqualified.

The men’s 94-kilogram category from the 2012 Olympics saw seven lifters fail retests, putting the original ninth-place finisher in line for an upgrade to bronze.

Those banned include some of the sport’s biggest stars, such as Ilya Ilyin from Kazakhstan, a four-time world lifter of the year who was stripped of his 2008 and 2012 gold medals for taking anabolic steroids.
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Old 12-17-2017
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Now the real uproar will begin. On July 28, Ye Shiwen, a 16-year-old Chinese swimmer, shattered the world record in the 400-m individual medley by more than one second, the equivalent of an eon in an event where victories are usually measured in the briefest of intervals. Her blazing time was five seconds faster than her personal best. Then, three days later, on Tuesday night, Ye claimed gold in the 200-m individual medley, with a time of 2 min. 07.57 sec., an Olympic record.

So, the big question is: Did China’s sensational double-gold medalist dope?

At the victory ceremony on July 31, the timid teenager looked more overwhelmed than overjoyed as China’s March of the Volunteers played in the Aquatics Centre. Perhaps the sheltered swimmer knew what was to come. Later that evening, at a packed press conference, Ye reiterated that she had never doped, barely cracking a smile even though she had won gold less than two hours earlier. Nearly all the questions during the 20-minute press conference danced around the drug question. “I think it’s unfair,” she said, after a series of brief answers to pointed questions. “I feel like it’s a prejudice [against China]. Other people from other countries have won multiple gold medals, but they are not questioned.”

(MORE: Doping Suspicions About Gold-Medal Swimmer Trigger Angry Response in China)

Ye has never failed a drug test, and Chinese supporters grumbled about the drug suspicions swirling around the young swimmer. “We never questioned Michael Phelps when he bagged eight gold medals in Beijing,” said Jiang Zhixue, a Chinese antidoping official, according to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency. “I think it is not proper to single out Chinese swimmers once they produce good results.” Ye’s father, Ye Qingsong, was quoted by China’s Tencent website, defending his daughter. “I saw a lot of Western media expressing their doubts about her, but Western media have always been very arrogant,” he said. “They always doubt the Chinese people. The best answer is data, tests. The Chinese national swimming team has always been given ‘special’ care internationally. I remember sometimes they have to do six or seven tests. So I think as long as there is data and there are tests, we don’t need to say anything more.”

But China’s history is not inspiring when it comes to swimming and drugs. In the 1990s, the country’s swimmers came out of nowhere to break world records and grab golds. Just as predictably, the drug busts followed. In one particularly telling incident, Chinese swimmers captured 12 gold medals at the 1994 Asian Games. But a surprise drug test then caught seven of those Chinese swimmers. At the 1998 world championships, a Chinese swimmer was stopped at an Australian airport carrying vials of human growth hormone.

Past cheaters are held to a higher standard, as Ye’s father alluded. That’s fair. But there’s also no question that China has tried to clean up its act in the pool. Chinese swimmers have not been caught doping at a high-profile international competition in years. At the Beijing Olympics four years ago, the country’s swimmers passed all drug tests. Now that it’s a sporting powerhouse that captured the most gold medals of any nation at the Beijing Games, China must fear losing face by having any of its victories questioned. The antidoping campaign is so rigid in China that national-team athletes are forbidden to eat outside of official canteens. Why? Because Chinese meat is so tainted with additives like clenbuterol that athletes could test positive simply by chowing on stir-fried pork.

(PHOTOS: Olympic Highlights in Photographs)

A steady stream of Chinese athletes have gotten caught in domestically administered drug tests. Even though the central government seems committed to combating doping, it’s another story on the provincial level where local sports budgets depend on the performances of athletes during the hotly contested National Games. Each major domestic contest seems to bring another embarrassing drug bust; out-of-competition positives aren’t uncommon either. In March, another 16-year-old female swimmer, Li Zhesi, was busted for EPO, a blood-boosting agent. Li was part of a 4×100-m medley relay that won at the 2009 world championship and had been expected by some to compete in London.

Ye’s performance in London has been characterized in the West as a come-from-nowhere stunner. But that’s not accurate. At the Asian Games in 2010, she racked up the second fastest times of the year in the 200-m and 400-m individual medleys. In the world championships last year, Ye glided past the then world-record holder Ariana Kukors of the U.S., to claim first place in the 200-m individual medley.

She’s also at the age when the best swimmers commonly make huge breakthroughs. Ian Thorpe, for instance, also shaved five seconds off his personal best around the same age. Janet Evans, the American swimmer, was 17 years old at the 1988 Olympics when she won triple gold and broke a world record.

That didn’t stop U.S. coach John Leonard from casting doubts on Ye’s performance. But others rallied to her defense — or at least cautioned against pronouncing her guilty with no evidence. London 2012 organizer Sebastian Coe told ITV News that it would be “very unfair to judge an athlete by a sudden breakthrough.”

In 2002, China began pouring resources into its swimming program, through the high-profile Project 119, which targeted medals in Olympic sports in which China had yet to dominate. Those events included track and field, rowing, and swimming. Money was lavished on these disciplines. The nation’s thousands of state-sponsored sports academies focused their efforts on cultivating talent in disciplines beyond traditional Chinese mainstays, such as diving and table tennis. The effort began to pay off at the Beijing Games, when a nearly unknown 19-year-old Chinese swimmer named Liu Zige captured gold in the 200-m butterfly with a world-record-breaking performance. In 2011, China clocked six of the fastest results of the year in various swimming races.

(MORE: China’s Gold Standard)

Then came the medal rush in London. The same night that Ye won her gold on Tuesday, the Chinese men captured bronze in the 4×200-m freestyle relay. Three nights before, Sun Yang became the first Chinese man to win gold in the pool, when he powered to a new Olympic record in the 400-m freestyle. He also won a silver in the 200-m freestyle on Monday.

Ye, who was picked for swimming when her kindergarten teacher noticed her large hands and feet, is part of this new generation of Project 119 swimmers. Her parents were happy to have her pursue the sport. They liked to go boating on the lake in Hangzhou, the pleasant eastern Chinese city where Ye grew up, and knowing how to swim would keep their daughter safe.

It’s possible that China’s swimmers could be amped up on some agent for which there is no test available yet. After all, antidoping efforts are often one — or 10 — steps behind scientific advances. But if that’s the case, then it’s also conceivable that swimmers from other nations are drugging too. Doping is hardly the unique domain of Chinese athletes. The list of Western Olympians who eventually have been caught doping — Marion Jones, Michelle Smith, a brace of American cyclists, to name just a few — is long.

But here’s the difference: Western athletes make an individual choice to subject their bodies to the dangers of performance-enhancing agents. In sports systems like those of China or East Germany, the decision to dope is made by the state. Athletes sometimes have no idea that the supplements they thought were simply herbs or vitamins are illegal substances. Take the case of Zou Chunlan, a former weight-lifting national champion. During her years as a lifter in the 1980s and ’90s, Zou was given mysterious pills that, it turned out, flooded her system with male hormones. She grew a beard. Today, she is unable to bear children. She told Chinese media she had no idea what it was she was taking at the coaches’ behest. “Everything is for the gold medals,” she told TIME, of the Chinese sports system. “I think that’s still the same today.”

(PHOTOS: The Gold Standard: James Nachtwey Photographs China’s Female Weight Lifters)

And here’s one last anecdote that, in its very ambiguity, proves the difficulties the Chinese sports system faces in earning the world’s trust. In June, when I was reporting a story on China’s national weight-lifting team, I asked the head coach whom I should focus on as a future Olympian. Immediately, he suggested Tian Yuan, a 19-year-old lifter in the 48-kg weight class. The advice seemed sound. Tian had recently broken the world record by more than 5 kg. But I couldn’t help but notice that she looked different from all her teammates. While they — even the ones in the larger weight classes — looked feminine, with body curves and rounded faces, Tian had a cut jaw and a high hairline. Her hands, with their prominent knuckles and veins, looked like miniature versions of men’s hands. Most noticeable was her voice, a raspy timber that had she called me on the phone I would have mistaken for a man’s.

Tian never made it to the Olympics. The July morning when China’s Olympic weight-lifting roster was announced, her name was there. But the early evening brought a dramatic announcement. The world-record holder had been booted from the team. On Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, Tian released an anguished note: “I feel very shocked. I don’t know what the reason is … I passed all antidoping tests. I am perfectly fine. I don’t understand why I can’t take part in the Olympics. I feel very sad.” Shortly after the decision, national team coach Xu Jingfa said by telephone that the last-minute change was due to complicated provincial politics. The next morning, a national weight-lifting press official told TIME that Tian was injured and that was why she wasn’t going to London. But a later call to her coach resulted in contradictory information. Tian wasn’t in the least bit injured, he said.

I have no proof that Tian was doping. There are women who look more manly, like Caster Semenya of South Africa, who, after months out of competition because of a controversy over her sex, was cleared for the London Olympics. Chinese journalists have found childhood photographs of Tian, and she certainly looked more feminine then than she does now. Whatever the truth, the Chinese Internet public has speculated widely that drugs were at the root of Tian’s last-minute cut from the Olympic team.

In some ways, you could argue that the Chinese system prevailed, that if she was doping, the country’s sports officials were making sure she wouldn’t participate in London. But the other lesson to draw from Tian’s case is that opacity still cloaks Chinese sports. And until those shadows are cast away, people, unfairly or not, are going to ask questions. If 16-year-old swimmer Ye is clean, it’s tragic that her moment of victory has been fouled by the taint of drugs. But the very Chinese system that made this remarkable young swimmer also laid the ground for doping allegations to flourish. Let the debate rage on.
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Old 04-12-2018
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CHINESE Olympians were subjected to a state-sponsored doping regime which was modelled on eastern Europe, says a retired Chinese Olympic doctor.

Steroids and human growth hormones were officially treated as part of ''scientific training'' as China emerged as a sporting power through the 1980s and into the 1990s, she says.

Athletes often did not know what they were being injected with and medical staff who refused to participate were marginalised, she says.
''It was rampant in the 1980s,'' Xue Yinxian told Fairfax, in her home in Beijing's eastern suburbs. ''One had to accept it.''
1998 world swimming championships in Perth ... Chinese swimmers Wang Luna and Zhang Yi failed drug tests.

The testimony of Dr Xue, whose elite roles included chief medical supervisor for the Chinese gymnastic team as it vied with the former Soviet Union for gold medals in the 1980s, will not surprise many veterans of Olympic sports.
She does not allege that all successful Chinese athletes used drugs and has refrained, at this stage, from publicising names.
But it is the first time anyone in the system has publicly contradicted Beijing's line that a slew of embarrassing doping busts, particularly among the Chinese swimming team in the 1990s, was merely the result of ambitious individual athletes and ignorant provincial coaches. Her allegation comes as most of China's 394-strong Olympic team arrives in London for the opening ceremony tonight, London time.
China is expected to put on another strong performance, although pundits predict the US may regain top place on the gold medal table after China's home-town success in 2008.
Xue Yinxian, retired chief medical supervisor for the Chinese gymnastics team in the 1980s.

A Chinese official said yesterday that the country had largely solved its problem with deliberate use of performance-enhancing drugs and he was confident there would be no Chinese drugs scandals in London.
After the humiliation of the 1998 world swimming titles in Perth, he said China had adopted a much tougher regime, with drug testing removed from the main sports administration and placed in a separate agency.
Chinese swimmer Zhang Yi warms up with her coach at the World Swimming Championships in Perth in 1998.

A routine customs check of a swimmer's bag found enough human growth hormone to supply the entire women's swimming team for the duration of the meet.
''For the world of sports, in particular to the Chinese, the 1998 championships in Perth was a bad incident,'' said Zhao Jian, the deputy director-general of the China Anti-Doping Agency.
1996 international swim meet in Homebush ... due to her muscular build, Le Jingyi was one of many Chinese swimmers suspected of using steroids during the 90s.

He said China had always taken a strong stance against doping and had never condoned it, but the incident prompted China to enter a ''routine, strict and legal track''.
Mr Zhao said concerns had now shifted to ''accidental'' steroid consumption, brought about by eating illegally adulterated Chinese red meat, but the general subject remains sensitive.

Internet searches for ''china'' and ''sports doping'' were blocked in Beijing yesterday, while a search for ''drugs'' coupled with the names of prominent athletes identified by Dr Xue resulted in the internet connection being temporarily severed.
Dr Xue says she fought a long but losing battle against the systematic use of drugs in elite sport since China closed the door on the Cultural Revolution and began opening to the world.
She said its top sports official told a meeting in October 1978 that performance-enhancing drugs were simply new things that should be utilised, provided they were properly understood.
''He gave the example of how a woman could use tampons to continue training while having her period,'' he said. ''And so it was with human growth hormones, which he described as a scientific training method. Whoever rejected them would face punishment or criticism.''
The Chinese women's swimming team came from obscurity to win 12 of 16 gold medals at the 1994 world titles in Rome, prompting suspicion among competitors, not least the Australian team.
The Chinese team was decimated by positive steroid busts at the Hiroshima Asian Games in 1994 and imploded for a second time in Perth in 1998.
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Old 04-12-2018
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When the women Chinese swimmers walked onto the deck of the Stadio del Nuoto in the Foro Italico in Rome for the 1994 world championships, the whispers began suddenly. Many couldn’t believe the people walking by them were actually women. The heavy musculature, the deep voices, the above-average height. Those three factors had many at the meet – especially those who were around for the 1976 Olympics – wondering if they were looking at the next regime of drug doping.

It would take about three years to prove it with widespread positive drug tests from Chinese swimmers in 1997, but it was very likely that the Chinese women who won all but four swimming events and set five world records were undergoing illegal doping at the 1994 worlds. No one had proof at the time, and the Chinese coaching staff attributed it all to hard work, including “training with the men,” as sprint freestyler Le Jingyi put it.

It was Le who turned the whispers into shouts on the first day of competition in Rome. Le won the 100 freestyle and broke Jenny Thompson’s two-year-old world record with a 54.01. As described in the November 1994 issue of Swimming World Magazine:

Le Jingyi exploded off the blocks … to emerge a clear three feet ahead of all but teammate Lu Bin. Le’s aggressive flailing stroke with a fast turnover translated into a 50 split of 25.79 seconds, a staggering 1.03 seconds faster than the halfway speed clocked by … Thompson on her way to 54.48 seconds – the world record before Le touched in an astounding 54.01 seconds.

The 100 freestyle was sheer power. Technique be damned, Le was easily the strongest person in the field, and no amount of technical acuity by such expert swimmers as Thompson and Fransiszka Van Almsick could match it.

Le would close out her meet with another world record, this time a 24.51 that broke the record of Chinese Olympic champion Yang Wenyi from 1992. Le was a stunning half a second ahead of the rest of the field, something that does not happen in the 50 free at the highest level. Both world records would last six years, until Inge de Brujin of the Netherlands tied the 50 free record and shattered the 100 free mark with the first swim under 54 seconds in 2000.

Wylas Timing
The question of whether the Chinese women were doping began about six months earlier, when several women — Le included — won gold medals and set world records at the inaugural short course world championships. In fact, most of the Swimming World Magazine coverage of the meet focused on the metoric rise of the Chinese women. In 1993, Le won four gold medals at the short course world championships, all in world record time, and would double down on those victories with four more in Rome in 1994.

Though most of the winners from the Chinese team would disappear after the world championships, Le stayed on the scene and won the 100 freestyle at the 1996 Olympics with a 54.50. The Chinese women who were at the Atlanta Olympics were already under the microscope, and Le’s winning time – half a second slower than her world record – only raised suspicion more. But Le ended her career without ever testing positive.

Le Jingyi wins 100 freestyle at 1996 Olympics
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Old 04-12-2018
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The Beijing Olympics may boast one of the coolest natatoriums in Olympic history — the luminescent bubble-wrapped confection called the 'Water Cube' — but Chinese swimmers weren't expected to make much of a splash in its pool lanes. But Liu Zige, a 1.81m (5'11") butterfly specialist, had other ideas.

On Aug. 14th, the 19-year-old grabbed a gold by setting a world-record time in the 200m butterfly final. Just behind her was her Chinese compatriot Jiao Liuyang, who claimed the silver. Australian Jessicah Schipper took the bronze. "I didn't expect I could swim so fast," said a delighted Liu, who demolished Schipper's previous world record by 1.22 seconds — an eternity in the split-second world of swimming.

Liu's feat marked the return of a once-fearsome Chinese women's swimming squad. In 1994, a fleet of well-muscled Chinese dominated the pool at the Asian Games. But the secret to China's success was soon exposed: drugs. Seven of China's Asian Games swimmers tested positive for banned substances and were stripped of their gold medals. That ignominious streak extended to the 1998 World Championships, where four more Chinese swimmers were caught using drugs.

After back-to-back disgraces, the Chinese coaches may have gotten their teams clean, but they also disappeared from the medals tables. "We are working hard to rebuild our credit in international swimming," Yuan Jiawei, former chief of the Chinese swimming association, told the Chinese state media in 2004. "It will be a long-term effort." By the 2004 Athens Games, that campaign had begun to pay off. China captured a gold and a silver in swimming with nary a failed drug test.

There's little question that China desperately wants its team to avoid scandal in Beijing. Any drug-tainted performance will be a huge loss of face for a country that wants to prove that its athletic successes can come naturally. In the run-up to Beijing, just before American swimmer Jessica Hardy was cut from the U.S. swimming team because of a positive doping test, China, too, busted its best men's backstroker, Ouyang Kunpeng, for steroid use and slapped him with a lifetime ban. Ouyang claimed that the anabolic agent entered his system through contaminated food, not through deliberate drug use — an explanation that China's anti-doping association didn't buy.

So far, Liu is China's only swimmer to strike gold these Olympics. But the Chinese team has performed impressively. On August 10, Zhang Lin made history as the first Chinese man to win an Olympic swimming medal when he claimed a silver in the 400m freestyle. The Chinese women's squad also scored a second-place finish in the 4x200m freestyle relay, while Pang Jiaying contributed a bronze in the women's 200m freestyle. And the Chinese may not be done yet, with several key races in the next few days. With seven swimming gold medals as of the afternoon of Aug. 14, America is the undisputed star of the Water Cube. But China is swimming comfortably in its wake.
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(Reuters) - China will be seeking to avoid a repeat of the drugs scandals that have become a regular feature of sports competitions when the Beijing Olympics open on August 8.

But two of its own athletes have been banned for life for doping offences in the past month, dealing an embarrassing blow to the host nation in the run-up to the Games.

Here is a timeline showing some other major doping scandals that have seen Chinese athletes banned and/or stripped of medals over the last 14 years.

* 1994: Seven swimmers and four other athletes test positive for dihydrotestosterone at the Asian Games in Hiroshima. China stripped of nine of its 23 gold medals.

* January 1998: Four Chinese swimmers fail pre-competition doping tests for the diuretic triamterene before swimming world championships in Perth.

— Yuan Yuan, and her coach, Zhou Zhewen, disqualified from the championships after being caught with 13 vials of muscle-building human growth hormone (HGH) at Sydney airport. Zhou banned for 15 years, Yuan for four years.

— Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) punished 24 athletes and coaches for doping or handing out banned drugs.

* 1999: Ten swimmers and swimming coaches suspended for doping offences, some for the second time.

* 2000: Controversial coach Ma Junren and six of his distance runners dropped from China team before the Sydney Olympics after blood tests showed abnormal results.

— Twenty one other athletes — including four swimmers — cut from China team after “suspicious” test results.

* July 2001: Women runners Liquing Song and Lili Yin, who trained under Ma Junren, banned for two years after testing positive for testosterone the previous year. Male race walker Yunfeng Lui also banned for two years.

— October - Women weightlifters Yang Xuewei and Qiu Xiexion banned for two years for doping.

— November - Two women weightlifters and a boxer among 11 tested positive for banned substances at the National Games. A swimmer and three field athletes pulled out of competition after blood tests showed abnormal results.

* 2003: COC said 16 athletes from nine sports — including Beijing Hyundai soccer player Zhang Shuai — failed tests and received bans from six months to three years.

— Swimmer Li Ning suspended for two years, her coach, Liu Guangtan, banned for life, after a positive test for banned steroid testosterone.

* October 17, 2005: Distance runner and Olympic medal hopeful Sun Yingjie lost medal and received two year ban for positive test for steroid androsterone at National Games in Nanjing.

— December A local court found her innocent after training partner admitted spiking her drink, but authorities refused to lift ban.

* October 2007: Asian Games triathlon gold medalist Wang Hongni banned for two years, meaning she will miss Olympics, after failing out-of-competition doping test.

* June 27, 2008: China’s top backstroke swimmer, 25-year-old Ouyang Kunpeng, and his coach Feng Shangbao are both banned for life after positive test for an illegal substance.

* July 2, 2008: Wrestler Luo Meng and his coach Zhang Hua handed lifetime bans after positive test for a banned diuretic.
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TONY JONES, PRESENTER: In the mid-1990s China's female swimmers swept all before them. The 1994 World Championships in Rome, they won an amazing 12 gold medals out of a possible 16.

But as we approach the Beijing Olympics, the once-dominant team looks like not winning a single medal in their home pool. Critics say the only way Chinese swimmers could have achieved those remarkable results was by using performance-enhancing drugs.

Lateline tracked down the most famous of China's female swimmers in the 1990s, Le Jingyi, to ask her if this was indeed the case.

China correspondent Stephen McDonell reports.

STEPHEN MCDONELL, REPORTER: In the 1990s China's female swimmers came from nowhere to claim swags of gold medals. The speed of improvement was breathtaking. ABC commentator Gerry Collins remembers the moment when the swimming world's collective jaw hit the ground.

GERRY COLLINS, ABC SWIMMING COMMENTATOR: It was 1994 at the World Swimming Championships in Rome where they just burst onto the scene, came from nowhere and did extraordinary things. They won 12 of the 16 gold medals that were up for grabs in women's events.

STEPHEN MCDONELL: The Australian swimmers being left in their wake were in little doubt that Chinese swimmers must be using performance enhancing drugs.

SUSIE O'NEILL, AUSTRALIAN SWIMMER: I haven't got any respect for the Chinese swimmers to be perfectly honest. You know, they've cheated over the years and there's been evidence to prove it.

STEPHEN MCDONELL: The symbol of China's instant swimming supremacy was Le Jingyi. Her remarkable physique meant she also became the symbol of Chinese doping, whether it was fair or not.

LE JINGYI, FORMER CHINESE SWIMMER (translated): Training makes people strong, that's normal. Just as if you kept training three hours per day in a fitness club. I promise you'll get great muscles.

STEPHEN MCDONELL: We tracked down Le Jingyi in Shanghai. In China she's still famous and is regularly giving interviews. She won four gold medals at the 1994 World Championships and the Olympic gold medal in Atlanta for the 100m freestyle.

LE JINGYI, FORMER CHINESE SWIMMER (translated): I think if an athlete does not fail a doping test then he does not take any drugs. If an athlete fails a doping test then it has been proved by facts that he has taken drugs, it is as simple as that.

STEPHEN MCDONELL: We asked her point blank if she used performance enhancing drugs to win.

LE JINGYI, FORMER CHINESE SWIMMER (translated): I think the results of doping tests can prove who took drugs, and who didn't. We can tell from the results.

STEPHEN MCDONELL: Is she sure she didn't?

LE JINGYI, FORMER CHINESE SWIMMER (translated): Of course I didn't. Actually, I think it was very unfair to me. Why did I have to do so many tests?

STEPHEN MCDONELL: Yuan Hong is a director of China's Antidoping Commission. She acknowledges that her country's athletes used drugs in the 1990s, but says these days her office is better prepared to catch them.

YUAN HONG, CHINESE ANTI-DOPING COMMISSION DIRECTOR: The anti-doping battle is extremely difficult, complicated and lasts a long time, but it's a battle we can win.

STEPHEN MCDONELL: We asked Le Jingyi why it is that China's swimmers instantly became world beaters and have just as quickly disappeared from the winners' podium.

LE JINGYI, FORMER CHINESE SWIMMER (translated): I think it is because the champions retired immediately after they won a gold medal, we all did. The athletes after us are not as good as us.

STEPHEN MCDONELL: And while some of her contemporaries were caught for using drugs, she never was, so Le Jingyi can say that for a time she was the fastest in the world and she did it all herself.

Stephen McDonnell, Lateline.
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China plunged into a doping crisis at the Rio Olympics today with swimmer Chen Xinyi failing a drugs test.

The Chinese Swimming Association confirmed that 18-year-old Chen tested positive for diuretic hydrochlorothiazide on August 7, the day she finished fourth in the 100m butterfly final.

Chen has applied to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for testing of her B sample and a hearing to look into the matter, said the Chinese Swimming Association.

“The CSA has taken this matter seriously and demanded full cooperation from Chen in the investigation,” the CSA said.

“The CSA resolutely opposes use of banned substances. We will cooperate with the Court of Arbitration of Sport during its investigation and will respect the final ruling by the CAS.”

WATCH: golden moments on Day 6 at the Rio Olympics

Diuretics increase urination rates and can be used as “masking agents” to hide the presence of performance-enhancing substances that are screened for in doping tests.

China's Sun Yang has also been at the centre of drug accusations. Photo: AFP
Chen missed the bronze medal by nine-hundredths of a second.

Chen finished sixth in the 100m fly last summer at the world championships in Kazan, and she also won a gold medal for her prelims leg on China’s 400m medley relay at that meet.

She won gold at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games in the 50m free, 100m fly and 400m free relay.

The positive comes as China vigorously defends its athletes in the face of another drugs storm in Rio, particularly surrounding superstar swimmer Sun Yang.

He makes me sick: French swimmer Camille Lacourt casts doubt on China's Olympic Games champion Sun Yang

Australian swimmer Mack Horton called Sun a “drug cheat” before and after he beat the controversial Chinese hero in the 400m men’s freestyle final.

Chen Xinyi competes in the butterfly heats in Rio. Photo: AFPAccusations and insults have been flying back and forth ever since.

Chen becomes the first Chinese athlete to test positive at an Olympics since 1992 in Barcelona.

China’s biggest swimming drug scandal came at the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima when seven of their team tested positive.

A year later, the official Chinese People’s Daily published an anti-doping policy and proclaimed an official prohibition on performance-enhancing substances.

At the 1998 World Swimming Championships in Perth, human growth hormone (HGH) was discovered in Chinese swimmer Yuan Yuan’s luggage in a random search at the airport. She had enough HGH to supply the entire women’s swimming team for the championships. Yuan Yuan was banned for four years.

Also at the Perth championships, banned diuretic masking agent triamterine was found in the urine of four Chinese swimmers – Wang Luna, Zhang Yi, Cai Huijue and Wang Wei. They were all suspended from competition for two years.

Sun Yang war with Australia spills into cyberspace as hacker fans are blamed for taking down country’s first online census

Meanwhile, Bulgarian athlete Silvia Danekova confirmed she had failed a doping test, with reports saying she has tested positive for blood booster EPO.

“We have found out that my fourth test was positive. The shock for me is unbelievable,” the 33-year-old said.
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