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Banned Athlete Still Has a Chance for 2008 Olympics
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Athletics officials said that China's long-distance runner, Sun Yingjie, still has a chance to compete in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games despite a likely two-year ban for her having tested positive for steroids.


"Although Sun could be banned from competition for two years, the ban could end in time for her to qualify for the 2008 Games. The ban should start from the day she tested positive for steroid use," said Feng Shuyong, vice director of Chinese Athletics Administrative Center.


"If she can maintain her form, she could still run for China in 2008," Feng added.


Sun first tested positive for steroid use after her second-place finish in the 10,000m event on October 17 during the National Games.


A second sample, the B sample, was tested last Friday in the presence of Sun and representatives from China's Athletics Association and China's Anti-doping Committee.


The B sample was found to be identical with the A sample, which tested positive for the banned male hormone, androsterone.


Sun and her coach Wang Dexian have claimed innocence. Wang, who is also the coach of China's women's 5,000m Olympic champion Xing Huina, suspects foul play.


He said that Sun was asked for her autograph after the race, and then drank some water given to her by a stranger.


According to China's anti-doping code, 26-year-old Sun and Wang could be slapped with a two-year ban each.


But a final decision has not been made yet.


"The final punishment will be made in line with the investigation process of our administration. There won't be any exceptions just because she is a star runner," said Luo Chaoyi, vice president and secretary-general of the Chinese Athletic Association.


According to Luo, the test results have been sent to Sun's local association, the Locomotive Sports Association, and they are allowed to ask for a hearing within five days.


"If Sun appeals, we will hold the hearing within 10 days and if necessary, the administration will conduct further investigations into the case," Luo said. "A final decision will be made by the end of this year."


Neither Sun nor Wang has made any formal statement.


According to wire reports, Sun's father Sun Fengyou said that Sun is concentrating on preparing evidence for any hearings in Beijing that are expected to be held within the week.


"Sun will appeal to lighten the punishment but if she faces a ban for as long as two years, she might choose to retire," her father was quoted as saying.


(China Daily November 9, 2005)

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