Athletes Themselves Should Take Rap for Drug Use, Beijing Says

Article excerpt

STUNG by the international suspension of some of China's most celebrated sports stars over drug use, Beijing is scrambling to distance itself from the embarrassment and suspicions of performance-enhancing drug abuse.

Earlier this month, Japanese sports officials announced that 11 Chinese athletes at the Asian Games in Hiroshima tested positive for the banned substance, dehydrotestosterone. Among the athletes were seven members of the sensational Chinese swimming team, including champions Lu Bin and Yang Aihua, who were suspended for two years.

Insisting that China's stunning athletic ascendancy should not be tarnished by the controversy, Yu Zhaiqing, vice chairman of the Chinese Olympic Committee and head of the Chinese delegation to the Asian Games in Hiroshima, blamed the individual athletes and denied that taking drugs was part of the country's national sports policy.

China has actively pursued a championship profile in athletics since the country opened up about 15 years ago and sought recognition as a world power. "This is their personal action, and responsibility should be borne by them," said Mr. Yu in an interview. "This matter doesn't taint other athletes' good reputations. The athletes who took drugs will be banned in some sports programs."

The Chinese sports executive emphasized that China accepts the scrutiny of drug use by the Olympic Council of Asia, which withdrew the Asian Games medals, and will investigate the matter and punish the athletes. But he also criticized Japanese drug officials for releasing the test results without first informing China, reflecting Beijing's continuing indignation at what is seen as humiliation of its athletes.

Initially, China defiantly rejected the results of urine sample testing, saying the accusations were prompted by Japanese jealousy of the country's domination of the Asian-style Olympics. …

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