China played tough hand in cracking down on drug cheats with more frequent no-notice tests and severe punishments ahead of the Beijing Olympic Games in a bid to ensure a clean team.
Eight positive cases have been found with cheating athletes and concerned coaches and punished until June 20 after over 5,000 tests were carried out, Zhao Jian, deputy director general of the China Anti-Doping Agency (CHINADA) said on Wednesday.
In the most recent case, a wrestling player was found using diuretic, which brought life-time bans to him and his coach.
Chinese men's top backstroker Ouyang Kunpeng, the most famous among the eight violators, namely two from diving, two from athletics, two from swimming, one from weightlifing and one from wrestling, also received a life-time ban after tested positive for clenbuterol, an anabolic steroid, and his coach Feng Shangbao was banned for life too.
"This proves that our anti-doping system is working well. We will catch those who dare to cheat," said Zhao in the newly-finished CHINADA building which includes a world-level laboratory serving the Olympic Games.
Head of the Chinese Olympic Committee Anti-Doping Commission Yuang Hong agreed.
"Finding drug cheats is not an embarrassment to us. On the contrary, it says what a firm stance we take in the fight against doping," she said.
"Ouyang's ban proves nothing but our determination to weed out dope cheats among Chinese athletes. No matter how excellent an athletes is, he or she will be severely punished once tested positive," said Yuan who is on a nationwide inspection to tighten management of performance-enhancing drug suppliers and manufacturers ahead of the Olympics.
The inspection, conducted by eight government departments, would specially focus on Olympic host cities and regions with a concentrated chemical industry.
"It's a wake-up call to those who attempt to cheat," she said.
However, Chinese anti-doping workers admitted that doping can't be eliminated overnight.
"These positive cases also prove that the fight against doping is a long, hard task because there are always some people believing they can get away," he said.
Zhao said until June 20 CHINADA had carried out 5,236 of the planned 9,500 tests, supported by the central government fund.
"Over 80 percent of the tests were no-notice out-of-competition tests, and most of them fell on athletes preparing for the Olympics," he said.
"They could take as many as 15 tests in the past six months," he said, adding that Olympic and world 110m hurdles champion Liu Xiang had taken six to seven out-of-competition tests besides the ones he had at international events.
"The number of tests will probably exceed what was planned," he said.
The Beijing Olympic Games will kick start on August 8 through to 24.
(Xinhua News Agency July 2, 2008)