China's star distance runner, Sun Yingjie, won her case in Dalian, China's Liaoning Province on Friday against an athlete who had spiked her drinks, according to reports from Life Newspaper.
Yu Haijiang, an athlete with the Qinghai Sports Team, was sued by Sun last month for allegedly spiking her drinks with the banned substance, androsterone, on October 16.
Sun, who finished third in the 2003 world championships, passed a drugs test carried out after the Beijing International Marathon on October 15. However, she failed a domestic test the following day in Nanjing, where she won a silver medal in the women's 10,000-meters event at the 10th National Games.
Sun was stripped of her medal after the substance was detected in her urine. She was then banned from competitive running indefinitely.
Reports said Sun alleged in court that Yu's actions were the direct cause of the failed urine test and asked for a public apology from Yu.
She also demanded compensation of 30,000 yuan (US$3, 750) and payment of her legal costs.
Yu, who was coached by Wang Deming, the brother of Sun's head coach Wang Dexian, reportedly said his only intention was to help Sun.
"I wanted to give her a hand. Sun is my idol and I am crazy about her," Yu said in court.
According to Sun's evidence, which was accepted by the court, Sun lived in her coach Wang's home and had breakfast with Yu and three other athletes on the morning of October 16th. Sun opened a bottle of Chinese gooseberry juice and drank two cups, leaving the rest on the table.
Sun then competed in the Beijing Marathon that day, while Yu went back to Wang's house and laced the juice with androsterone powder from seven to eight capsules.
Sun returned to Wang's home and drank the juice that afternoon, and drank the rest on the morning of October 17, the day she flew to Nanjing.
According to the newspaper, Yu said he was willing to make a private apology, but not a public one, and said that he would be unable to pay the compensation.
Yu also said he was likely to appeal.
Sun said she was relieved about the verdict.
"From the beginning of the failed drug test, I trusted in my innocence. I do not know how the China Track and Field Administration Centre (CTFAC) can continue to impose that punishment on me after this ruling," Sun was quoted as saying.
When asked if she was preparing to compete in 2008, Sun said it depends on what the CTFAC does.
"All will be determined by them," she said.
Feng Shuyong, head coach of the national track and field team, told Xinhua that the case will be looked at again.
But Feng refused to make any comment about Sun's suspension.
Officials working in the anti-doping field said China are opposed any kind of drug use, whether intentional or not, and they said that a court ruling would not necessarily result in a change in punishment.
"Winning a case and having a positive test are two different things. The association will deal with the incident strictly according to the rules of the World Anti-doping Agency and China's anti-doping regulations," said Zhang Yongliang from the China Track and Field Association.
"We tested her twice and both samples tested positive," Zhang added.
Zhang Jian, an official from the Anti-doping Commission of the Chinese Olympic Committee, said there were no rules from the "World Anti-doping Code" that an investigation and court ruling should be used as evidence for a hearing to decide on punishment for positive drug tests.
(China Daily December 19, 2005)