Chinese Olympic weightlifting trio stripped of Beijing gold

By Fan Lingzhi Source:Global Times Published: 2017/1/13 16:48:39

China's three weightlifting gold medals from the Beijing Olympic Games were overturned after retests of the athletes' samples proved positive.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced Thursday on its website that it had disqualified weightlifting gold medalists Cao Lei (75kg), Chen Xiexia (48 kg) and Liu Chunhong (69kg) from the Beijing Games after they tested positive for prohibited substances.

Lifters from Chinese Taipei, Russia and Kazakhstan could be upgraded to the vacant gold medal positions, although it is unclear if they too failed doping tests in the reanalysis.

They are among eight athletes from different countries who have been revealed to have failed anti-doping tests on Thursday. 

An expert on the study of prohibited substances who requested anonymity told the Global Times that the drug taken by the three athletes was GHRP-2, which stimulates production of growth hormone and sibutramine, with the latter possibly serving as a masking agent.

"It is common knowledge among all athletes that these substances are prohibited. Unless they have an exemption for using the drugs, it's all illegal," he said.

The IOC is keeping samples from past Games for up to a decade, conducting retests as newer testing methods are developed in an effort to try and root out any cheats. Retests of doping samples from the Beijing and London Games have so far caught more than 100 doping offenders, with Russian athletes the most frequent offenders, according to Reuters.

Athletes in the disciplines of athletics and weightlifting might be more likely to be caught doping because the prohibited substances, which enhance the aerobic capacity of muscles, are most effective in improving the performance of athletes in such sports, according to the expert.

He also noted that the athletes involved would face bans from the IOC, as well as severe punishment domestically. "The athletes in question will be punished, and their reputations will be damaged," he said.

"In the age of the Internet, athletes can easily acquire prohibited substances," he said, adding, "there are also many athletes from Western countries who were found using prohibited substances in recent years, but the global media usually tries to paint their indiscretions as personal mistakes. However, when it comes to countries like China, the issue becomes 'nationally organized behavior.' To some degree, it is a double standard."


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