LONDON Aug 12 China bowed out of the 2012
Olympics on Sunday with a swipe at the critics who had accused
teenage swimming sensation Ye Shiwen of doping after her times
rivalled the top U.S. men.
Aged just 16, Ye set a world record, a Games record and won
two gold medals in the women's individual medleys, but her
victories were overshadowed by questions and insinuations of
cheating. There was no proof that she had broken any rules.
Head of the Chinese delegation to London, Liu Peng, said the
accusations were totally unfounded and stressed that China was
strongly opposed to any doping "misbehaviour".
"This is really unfair. This is groundless," Liu told a news
conference on Sunday.
"There are individuals and media that are accusing,
unfounded, our Chinese athletes. These people should respect
sporting persons' dignity and their reputation."
Ye gave a stunning 400 metres individual medley display.
She covered the penultimate freestyle lap in 29.75 seconds,
faster than medal-laden Michael Phelps in the men's medley
final, and the last lap in 28.93, quicker than the U.S.'s Ryan
Lochte did in winning the men's event.
She also became the first female swimmer to break a world
record since the ban of performance-enhancing suits, taking more
than a second off the previous benchmark.
Television presenter Clare Balding, working for the British
Games broadcaster the BBC, asked aloud how many questions would
be raised by her performance, and media outlets picked up
remarks by John Leonard, executive director of the World
Swimming Coaches Association.
Questions were also asked in newspaper columns, including
in the British Guardian and the New York Times.
Chinese media snapped back, saying the baseless suspicions
"This is unfounded guessing and rumours about our athletes
and the media should blame themselves because they should be
objective and stick to the facts," said Liu.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had no comment on
Ye, who was tested after her Olympic gold medals and is likely
to have had further tests leading up to the Games.
The IOC only comments if testing uncovers adverse findings.
China's patchy track record in doping in sport is part of
the reason critics were so quick off the mark.
China had a spate of cases in the 1990s, most embarrassingly
in 1998 when a female swimmer and coach were disqualified from
the Perth world championships after being caught with 13 vials
of muscle-building human growth hormone at Sydney airport.
Liu said China took anti-doping very seriously: the
government published anti-doping regulations in 2004.
In June this year, the Chinese Anti-Doping Agency said world
champion swimmer Li Zhesi had tested positive for
performance-enhancing drugs and she was dropped from the Olympic
"China has laws against doping. Only very few other
countries in the world have such laws," he said. "Anti-doping is
always a very, very serious issue in China."
(Created by Belinda Goldsmith; edited by Sara Ledwith)