|China punishes drug offenders|
|http://www.sina.com.cn 2003/05/20 11:18 上海英文星报|
Thirty-four Chinese athletes tested positive for doping as authorities stepped up its campaign to crack down on drug cheats.
Lin Na, who won the women's 800m and 1,500m titles at the Ninth National Games in 2001, and Liu Huyuan, one of China's top men's distance runners, were among those caught in tests carried out last year.
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 yesterday.
"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, Shi said. About 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 National Games, while 23 athletes turned out positive.
More than 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 (US,836).
"To our surprise, not a single swimmer tested positive 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.
Shi said China will strictly enforce the World Anti-Doping Agency's code insgroupsto sweep out doping from sport.
"We are determined to eradicate this cancer in sports," he said.
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