Results of Chinese Nationals Raise Serious Concerns

(This is the first in a series of articles about renewed concerns regarding systematic doping by Chinese swimmers.)

By Phillip Whitten

PHOENIX, January 7. FOR the past several weeks, we at swiminfo and Swimming World have been gathering the results of the Chinese national championships, which took place in Guangzhou in November.

Though the Chinese swimming authorities have not yet published the full results of this meet, we have managed to piece together most of the top times from a variety of sources. The pattern that emerges is a very disturbing one.

Several weeks ago, I wrote an editorial based on partial results from the Chinese nationals. That editorial appears in the January issue of Swimming World, which is out today. The more complete results make an ever stronger case than the partial results on which I based my editorial.

The pattern that emerged in Guangzhou is one that is remarkably similar to the East German pattern of the 1970s and '80s, and the Chinese pattern to which we first called attention in 1993 and '94, and which ultimately led to FINA, reluctantly, taking a much stronger position against doping. As a consequence, beginning late in 1994, Chinese swimmers tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in record numbers. In 1998, just before the World Championships in Perth, a Chinese swimmer, Yuan Yuan, was caught at Sydney Airport with enough vials of human growth hormone to supply the entire Chinese team. Yuan and her coach were later suspended.

In November, Chinese women swimmers — but not men — leaped to the top of the world rankings. Some of those doing the leaping were swimmers never before ranked in the world's top 200. Newcomer Zhang Liang, 17, for instance, jumped to the #1 spot in the world in 2001 for the 200m free (1:58.11) and 400 free (4:06.97), and #2 in the 800 (8:26.48). The last person to go from 4:20+ to 4:07 was Ireland's Michelle Smith.

Another newcomer, Pang Jiang swam the second fastest 400 in the world (4:07.12), to go with her 1:59.01 200 free (7th in the world).

Fifteen year-old Yang Yu sped to two #4 rankings: a 54.94 100 free (second in the race behind Xu Yanwei's 54.40) and a 1:58.71 200 free.

Another 15 year-old Cheng Jiaru clocked 1:01.05 in the 100 back, #3 globally.

Chinese women rank 1-2-5 in the 200 breast; 1-4 in the 200 IM; 1-3-4-5 in the 400 IM; and high in every other women's event.

In all, the Chinese have 34 rankings in the top 10 in the 13 Olympic events. By contrast, Chinese men have only two — and both are tenth place.

The Shanghai provincial 4 x 200m freestyle relay team clocked 7:56.52 — the second fastest time in history, and only 5-hundredths behind the world record still held by a doped East German team. That time would easily have won the World Championships in Fukuoka in July, but in Fukuoka the Chinese national team could manage only an 8:08+, which did not make the finals.

Several Chinese athletes, including one swimmer, were announced as having tested positive in Guangzhou, but clearly the use of drugs is widespread. Chinese officials need to get much more serious about policing the sport of swimming if they are to avoid a major embarrassment before the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

RESULTS
Chinese National Championships
Guangzhou, China
November 2001

50 meter pool

WOMEN

50 meter freestyle
1. 25.02 Xu Yanwei, 17
2. 25.51 Shan Ying, 23
3. 25.60 Le Ying, 23
4. 25.61 Zhou Xiawei, 21

100 meter freestyle
1. 54.40 Xu Yanwei, 17
2. 54.94 Yang Yu, 15
3. 55.26 Shan Ying, 23
4. 55.42 Wang Dan, 24

200 meter freestyle
1. 1:58.11 Zhang Liang, 17
2. 1:58.71 Yang Yu, 15
3. 1:59.01 Pang Jiaying, 21
4. 1:59.53 Zhu Yingwan, 20
5. 1:59.57 Wang Luna, 21
6. 1:59.87 Xu Yanwei, 17

400 meter freestyle
1. 4:06.97 Zhang Liang, 17
2. 4:07.12 Pang Jiaying, 21
3. 4:08.27 Chen Hua, 19
4. 4:12.16 Yang Yu, 15
5. 4;12.68 Zhang Yan, 16
6. 4:12.71 He Qian, 19

800 meter freestyle
1. 8:26.48 Zhang Liang, 17
2. 8:26.54 Chen Hua, 19
3. 8:31.58 He Qian, 19
4. 8:32.34 Zhang Yan, 16
5. 8:34.23 Pang Jiaying, 21

100 meter backstroke
1. 1:01.05 Cheng Jiaru, 15
2. 1:01.17 Zhan Shu, 16
3. 1:01.89 Chen Xiujun, 19

200 meter backstroke
1. 2:11.06 Chen Xiujun, 19
2. 2:11.50 Zhan Shu, 16
3. 2:11.55 Cheng Jiaru, 15
4. 2:12.80 Zhong Song, 19

100 meter breaststroke
1. 1:06.96a Luo Xuejuan, 17
2. 1:08.96 Luo Nan, 21
3. 1:09.12 Qi Hui, 16

200 meter breaststroke
1. 2:24.76 Luo Nan, 21
2. 2:24.80 Qi Hui, 16
3. 2:28.04 Luo Xuejuan, 17
4. 2:28.39 Zhang Tianyi, 19

100 meter butterfly
1. 58.77 Zheng Xi, 18
2. 59.32 Liu Xiaoxiao, 17
3. 59.35 Liu Nan, 20
4. 59.39 Zhao Jing, 24
5. 59.81 Sui Jingjing, 22

200 meter butterfly
1. 2:08.66 Liu Yin, 17
2. 2:08.67 Chen Yan, 20
3. 2:08.75 (name?)
4. 2:10.45 Liu Xiaoxiao, 17

200 meter individual medley
1. 2:11.79 Chen Yan, 20
2. 2:13.82 Zhou Yafei, 21
3. 2:14.43 Liu Yin, 17

400 meter individual medley
1. 4:35.22 Chen Yan, 20
2. 4:38.20 Qi Hui, 16
3. 4:38.96 Liu Yin, 17
4. 4:38.98 Zhou Yafei, 21
5. 4:45.10 Ning Bo, 19
6. 4:45.68 Chen Hua, 19
7. 4:45.73 Zhang Dan, 20

MEN

50 meter freestyle
1. 22.56 Jiang Chengji, 26
2. 23.02 Zhao Lifeng, 23
3. 23.20 ChenTietao, 26

100 meter freestyle
1. 50.92 Chen Zuo, 19
2. 51.46 Zhao Lifeng, 23
3. 51.48 Li Shang, 22

200 meter freestyle
1. 1:49.77 Liu Yu, 19
2. 1:49.86 Jin Hao, 22
3. 1:51.67 Chen Zuo, 19

400 meter freestyle
1. 3:53.18 Yu Cheng, 21
2. 3:53.25 Zheng Shubin, 21
3. 3:54.75 Jin Hao, 22

1500 meter freestyle
1. 15:15.95 Yu Cheng, 21
2. 15:16.22 Zheng Shubin, 21
3. 15:18.65 Wu Peng, 21

100 meter backstroke
1. 56.29 Chen Lei, 22
2. 56.44 Yu Rui, 19
3. 56.63 Chen Cheng, 20

200 meter backstroke
1. 1:59.76 Yu Rui, 19
2. 2:00.55 Fu Yang, 23
3. 2:02.37 Chen Cheng, 20

100 meter breaststroke
1. 1:02.46 Zheng Qiliang, 24
2. 1:02.87 Zhu Yi, 24
3. 1:03.34 Yu Daqing, 23

200 meter breaststroke
1. 2:17.17 Cheng Hao, 20
2. 2:17.30 Wang Zheng, 20
3. 2:17.61 Zhu Yi, 24

100 meter butterfly
1. 53.89 Zhou Jiawei, 21
2. 54.14 Ouyang Kunpeng, 19
3. 54.92 Cai Zhidin, 21

200 meter butterfly
1. 1:58.89 Wu Peng, 21
2. 1:59.03 Jin Hao, 22
3. 1:59.94 Wang Hongwei, 19

200 meter individual medley
1. 2:01.87 Jin Hao, 22
2. 2:02.40 Xie Xufeng, 23
3. 2:06.02 Wang Haizhou, 24

400 meter individual medley
1. 4:18.61 Xie Xufeng, 23
2. 4;21.66 Jin Hao, 22
3. 4:21.82 Wu Peng, 21

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