China to strengthen anti-doping rules, prohibit athletes suspended for over 1 year for doping ‘from joining national team’
Published: Mar 22, 2021 08:05 PM
World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)

China's authorities showed its clear zero-tolerance attitude toward doping in sports by planning to add "strictest-ever" clauses into anti-doping management measures, media reported on Monday.

Athletes and related supporting personnel who have been suspended from competition for more than one year for violating anti-doping regulations will be prohibited from joining national teams, according to the Measures for the Administration of Anti-doping (Exposure Draft) published on the website of Ministry of Justice on Monday.

Those with a suspension for less than one year, as the draft measures said, must undergo "narrow examinations" when applying to join national teams.

The draft measures also tighten punishments on the agencies that doping athletes belong to, such as sports schools, clubs and regional teams. 

"If one athlete was suspended from competition for more than one year [for doping], all his or her peer athletes who are engaged in the same sport through the same agency would be banned from participating in national-level comprehensive games for at least one year," said the draft measures, which are soliciting public opinions online.

The draft measures received applause on Chinese social media on Monday, with many Weibo users saying that severe penalties can deter potential wrongdoers. "I hope no athlete 'dare to dope' after the new measures take effect," one user wrote, saying that doping runs counter to sportsmanship and hurts fair competition.

Some experts on anti-doping nonetheless have slightly different views. "It's good to strictly control doping in sports, but domestic regulations are better to be consistent with international rules," said renowned anti-doping education scholar Wang Yuqing, former head of Shenyang Sport University in Northeast China's Liaoning Province.

Some of the tightened penalties in the draft measures may have gone beyond the World Anti-Doping Code, Wang said. "The situations of violating anti-doping rules can be complicated; some athletes may break the rules by mistake," he told the Global Times on Monday. The prohibited [drug] list is regularly updated as well, he added.

Anti-doping is a sensitive and complex topic in China with some resistances in practice, said a Shanghai-based industry insider who spoke on anonymity, declining to give more details about what resistance there is.

"But I'm glad to see our government sternly saying no to doping," he told the Global Times.

China's national anti-doping agency found 25 violations among a total of 14,072 cases it tested in 2020, according to statistics published by the General Administration of Sport of China on its website on March 3. "We will strictly inspect the athletes preparing for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and the Beijing Winter Olympics, to ensure the 'zero occurrence' of doping at the two games," the agency said.