TANGSHAN, Hebei Province, December 16. CHINESE swimming has done a good job in the fight against doping in recent years, said Australian national swimming coach Scott Volkers Tuesday in an interview with sportswriters Ma Xiangfei and Zhu Feng in China View.
"I have been the (Australian) national coach for 10 years," the story quoted Volkers as saying. "As far as I am concerned, China has been much better in doping-control now."
[Volkers was suspended from his Australian national team coaching duties for about two years following allegations of sexual abuse against him by a former swimmer. He was acquitted of those charges this year and reinstated as a coach of the Australian national women's team.]
"In the past, some Chinese swimmers tested positive, which meant there were some problems there," he told the Xinhua news agency, "an understatement that probably lost something in translation.
"Between 1994 and 1998, your athletes weren't that friendly and outgoing. They tended to stay away from swimmers from other countries during competition."
The image of Chinese sports was tainted in the 1990s following several high-profile positive incidents, notably in the pool, the story continued, downplaying the delugee of Chinese positives in swimming, weight-lifting, running and other sports.
Seven Chinese swimmers tested positive for steroids at the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima. Four years later, another four swimmers failed doping tests during the World Championships in Perth, Australia, and a swimmer and coach were arrested for transporting human growth hormone into Australia in their bags.
Other individuals tested positive at smaller meets and in out-of-competition tests.
"To redeem its reputation," the article continues, "China launched a vigorous anti-doping campaign with more intensive drug testing and harsher penalties for any doping cheats.
"One of its best women swimmers, Wu Yanyan, was banned for four years after she tested positive for an anabolic steroid at a national championships before the Sydney Olympics in 2000."
Unfortunately, Wu's "world record" in the 200 IM still stands, as FINA declined to strike it from the books.
China signed onto the World Anti-Doping Code in 2003. "The China Doping Control Center based in Beijing has acquired the IOC accreditation for 15 straight years and is ranked as a Class A laboratory in the world.
"China's own anti-doping law, the Anti-Doping Regulation, took effect in March 2004, making China one of the few countries waging war on drug cheats through law.
"'Positive doping rates have dropped steadily from about 1.6 percent in 1990 to less than 0.4 percent in 2003,' Chinese anti-doping chief Shi Kangcheng said early this year.
"For Chinese swimming, officials adopted preventive measures in addition to severe punishment.
"'We are working hard to rebuild our credit in international swimming. It will be long-term efforts,' said Yuan Jiawei, chief of the Chinese swimming association.
"'We increase the number of tests each year and change our competition format,' he said. 'And we welcome colleagues from abroad to visit," he added.
China's anti-doping efforts have begun to pay off.
"'China has made good efforts in the fight against doping,' Volkers said.
"'Now I noticed that the Chinese swimmers have become much more friendly and outgoing. That is a good sign,' he said."