WADA boss has kudos for China

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Craig Reedie makes a speech at the International Anti-doping Symposium in Beijing, China on July 16. (Xinhua/Zhang Xu)

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Craig Reedie heaped praise on China's efforts to tackle performance-enhancing drugs in sport during a major conference on the issue in Beijing.

"You have the advantage of many people who are prepared to help. You also have the advantage of political leadership, which has a very strong anti-doping philosophy," said Reedie after the first session of the CHINADA International Anti-Doping Symposium concluded on Wednesday.

"You want to have clean medals and healthy young people. You educate them in such a way that they avoid taking drugs," added the former British badminton star, who first visited China in 1978.

China officially launched its anti-doping campaign in 1987, building a lab in preparation for the 11th Asian Games in Beijing. Two years later, the nation started conducting doping tests-the number of which has risen from 165 in 1989 to over 19,000 last year.

Since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, China has developed a solid doping control system for multi-sport events, featuring training for testers, the establishment of doping control stations and comprehensive education for athletes.

Reedie has strong confidence in China's experience being promoted to the world.

"What I think is going to happen is that you will simply get better and better in your anti-doping processes, because I think you will be running more major events," he said.

"We have a clear feeling that China will cooperate with other countries, offer assistance, and I hope it continues."

China's next big event will be the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing and Zhangjiakou, Hebei province.

"I don't know how many people in the world fully understand your National Games are actually bigger than the normal summer Olympic Games. It's an enormous sporting event and you apply the correct rules to all of those competitions," said Reedie.

"It's really nice here in China that your anti-doping program fits so well with your sports programs, with the training of your athletes and with competitions.

"China has set an example in many ways and I hope other countries around the world will follow."

The two-day symposium hosted by the China Anti-Doping Agency (CHINADA) featured 78 experts from 33 countries and regions sharing their experiences in the anti-doping movement.

'Test of history'

The China Anti-Doping Agency is already working on a control plan for athletes at the 2022 Winter Olympics, said Chen Zhiyu, the organization's CEO.

The Chinese government has long taken a "zero-tolerance" stance toward doping, refusing any tainted competition results, especially at the Olympics.

"No matter how many athletes there are and where they are, we can reach them," said Chen, who headed the anti-doping program for the 2008 Olympics.

"The normal in-competition and out-of-competition tests are still going on, and we are now working on a special plan to reinforce doping control of these Games-bound athletes," he said.

"We conduct tests if they are at home and can delegate the task to other anti-doping agencies if the athletes train abroad. I believe we can catch anyone who takes the risk and punish them.

"We hope through scientific, rigorous and targeted tests, athletes go from 'dare not dope' to 'can not dope', and ultimately 'do not want to dope'. We want our athletes to be clean throughout their entire career and stand the test of history."

Sharing is key

Chen said sharing experiences and information is a key component in battling doping at the global level.

"The origin of China's anti-doping work is closely related to major sporting events," said Chen. "In 1987, we set up the Beijing testing laboratory to prepare for the Asian Games. This can be regarded as our starting point."

At the 2008 Olympics, the number of tests reached an all-time high of 4,700, and with that opportunity, China developed a blueprint for doping control that can be adopted worldwide.

"We accumulate experience at every event we stage, and also sent staff to big events like the Rio Summer Olympics in 2016 and the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in order to learn from others' experience," added Chen.

"Now we have enough experience to set up a whole system that we call the 'Chinese model'. This symposium is the platform through which we share our stories with the outside world and open a window for other people to know what we do and how we do it."

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