Wednesday, February 8, 2023
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Former Chinese Olympic Doctor Claims 10,000 Athletes Doped in 1980s, 1990s

Xue Yinxian, a 79-year-old who fled China two years ago and sought political asylum in Germany, claims that athletes aged as young as 11 were introduced to the compulsory doping scheme. Photo: AFP

A former doctor for the Chinese Olympic team has claimed that all medals won by athletes from the country in 1980s and 1990s were achieved through a systematic doping program existing across all sports.

Xue Yinxian, a 79-year-old who fled China two years ago and sought political asylum in Germany, claims that athletes aged as young as 11 were introduced to the compulsory doping scheme.

She told German broadcaster ARD that more than 10,000 athletes across sports including “football, volleyball, basketball, table tennis, badminton, athletics, swimming, diving, gymnastics and weightlifting” were all involved.

“In the 1980s and 90s, Chinese athletes on the national teams made extensive use of doping substances,” Xue said.

“Medals were tainted by doping – gold, silver and bronze.

“All international medals [won by Chinese athletes in that time] should be taken back.

“There must have been more than 10,000 people involved.

“People [in China] believed only in doping, anyone who took doping substances was seen to be defending the country.

“Anyone against doping damaged the country and anyone who endangered the country now sits in prison.”

Xue claims that athletes were repeatedly tested until they came back negative – and were then sent to international competitions.

The call sign “Grandma is home” was applied to those athletes, she said, who no longer had traces of doping substances in their body.

“If you refused to dope, you had to leave the team,” Xue added.

“At first, the youth-age group teams used the substances – the youngest were 11-years-old.”

China enjoyed huge improvement on the sporting stage after they competed at a first Olympic Games for 32 years at Los Angeles 1984.

They finished fourth with a total of 32 medals, including 15 gold.

But they finished only 11th at Seoul 1988 with just five golds at Seoul 1988.

They then won 16 gold medals at both Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996.

That rose to 28 gold medals at Sydney 2000 and 32 at Athens 2004.

At Beijing 2008, they finished top with a staggering 100 medals – 48 gold, 22 silver and 30 bronze.

Their improvement, however, has always been overshadowed by doping allegations.

In February this year, a letter reportedly signed in 1995 was published in which Wang Junxia, the 3,000 and former 10,000 meter women’s world record holder, seemingly admitted to doping.

“We are humans, not animals,” read the letter, written in Mandarin and originally published by Tencent Sports.

“For many years, [we were] forced to take a large dose of illegal drugs – it was true.”

Wang was among a training group led by controversial coach Ma Junren.

In 1993 alone, the team broke a total of 66 national and world records.

Ma attributed their performances to intense training in the Tibetan Alps, a ban on long hair and dating and their consumption of turtle blood and caterpillar fungus.

In 1994, 11 members of the Chinese swimming and cycling teams, winners of a total of 15 gold medals between them at the Asian Games in Hiroshima, were disqualified after failing tests for Dihydrotestosterone, an anabolic steroid.

Chen Zhanghao, the Chinese Olympic team’s chief doctor at Los Angeles 1984, Seoul 1988 and London 2012 told The Sydney Morning Herald in 2012 that “about 50′” Chinese athletes had taken various banned drugs during his tenure.

This represents a mere fraction of what is now being alleged.

There is no chance of medals being retrospectively stripped, however, due to the statute of limitations having long passed.

Xue claims to have been dismissed from working with the Chinese gymnastics team after she refused to provide a banned substance for a gymnast at Seoul 1988.

She stayed working as a doctor for other sporting organisations in China for the following 10 years but was later warned to keep quiet about doping before Beijing 2008.

This included being visited by Government officials and seeing police cars parked outside her home.

“They warned me against talking about doping substances,” she told ARD.

“They urged me to back down.

“I said I couldn’t do that.

“They wanted to silence me.

“After the death of my husband, they constantly came to me when there was a sporting event.

“I was forbidden to talk about it [doping], sometimes they phoned our home at 5am.

“Both of my sons lost their jobs.”

The Chinese Government and Chinese Olympic Committee have not yet responded to the latest allegations but have denied involvement in individual doping cases in the past.

China is among nine countries currently suspended by the International Weightlifting Federation due to multiple doping failures.

This included three Beijing 2008 female gold medal winners,  Xiexia Chen at under 48 kilograms, Chun Hong Liu at under 69kg and Lei Cao at under 75kg.

An investigation was also launched by the World Anti-Doping Agency in March 2016 into alleged cover-ups of failed drugs tests in Chinese swimming.

It was reported that a total of five Chinese swimmers tested positive, with two coming in October and three at the turn of the year.

Three-time Olympic champion swimmer Sun Yang also served a secret three month ban for doping in 2014 after a failed test for banned stimulant trimetazidine.

He had returned to competition before news of the suspension emerged.

By Nick Butler

Republished with permission from

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