Taiwanese weightlifter Hsu Shu-ching (許淑淨) yesterday apologized for mistakenly taking a dietary supplement containing a banned substance, saying that she is willing to accept any penalties for her actions.
Hsu, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, confirmed on Facebook that she was informed by the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee (CTOC) early last year that a drug test undertaken before the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships was positive.
“I was shocked. As an athlete, I have been taught at the National Sports Training Center that I need to follow the regulations on banned drugs, medications and substances set by the World Anti-Doping Agency [WADA], and I have been careful so that I would avoid using those medications banned by WADA,” Hsu said.
Photo: Nien Miao-yun, Taipei Times
After receiving the notification, Hsu said she tried to remember what she had eaten before the championships.
She said that she was in low spirits and was not sleeping well, because she was not able to compete in the 2017 Taipei Summer Universiade due to a leg injury.
She managed to compete in the National Games that year, Hsu said, but added that her performance was worse than she had expected, which aggravated her sleep problem.
She said that her relatives recommended a dietary supplement that would ease her stress and improve her mood, but added that she initially failed to make a connection between the product’s effectiveness and the banned substance.
As the dietary supplement did not improve her situation, Hsu said that she quit taking it after the first dose.
“I knew that I had taken the banned substance by mistake and would explain to the CTOC’s Anti-Doping Commission,” she said. “I will accept the punishment I deserve.”
“I offer my sincerest apology for the harm and trouble caused by my consumption of the banned substance by mistake. I hope all young athletes will remember to verify dietary supplements with the National Sports Training Center before taking them,” she added.
Hsu’s failed drug test was not publicized until after WADA notified the CTOC on March 6 that it must publish online the names of athletes who had failed drug tests by Friday next week.
WADA also requested that CTOC explain why Hsu was still a coach at the training center and strip her of any medals won after taking the test, CTOC deputy secretary-general Cheng Shih-chung (鄭世忠) said.
The commission must rule on Hsu’s case and have the ruling translated into English before submitting it to WADA, Cheng said.
Hsu has returned a silver medal she won at the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships and resigned from her position as coach at the center, Cheng added.
Cheng denied that the CTOC intentionally hid Hsu’s case from the media, adding that it had never disclosed the names of other athletes who had failed drug tests.
The Sports Administration and National Sports Training Center knew about Hsu’s case in January last year, so he did not know why she was still hired as a coach after she retired in June last year, he said.
The Chinese Taipei Anti-Doping Agency would inform the Sports Administration, the National Sports Training Center and sports associations about not hiring athletes who have failed drug tests as coaches or trainers, per WADA regulations, Cheng said.
Hsu’s case has raised concerns that it might affect the ability of other Taiwanese to compete in international games.
Neither WADA nor the International Olympics Committee bar sport associations from nations that have had three or more athletes fail drug tests from competing in the international sports events, but International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) regulations state that a national weightlifting association could be banned from competing in international games for up to four years and subject to fines if it has three athletes test positive within one calendar year.
Hsu and weightlifter Lin Tzu-chi (林子琦) both tested positive in drug tests in 2017, so the chances of Kuo Hsing-chun (郭婞淳) and other weightlifters of competing would not be affected, Cheng said.
This story has been updated since it was first published.
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