Wed, Oct 11, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Dick Pound tells Beijing to increase doping tests

SAVING FACE In China on a four-day visit, the anti-doping chief advised officials to step up drug tests for the sake of the country's reputation


China has to sharply increase the number of anti-doping tests performed ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency said yesterday.

China does about 7,000 tests per year on its athletes, compared with 8,000 carried out by the much smaller Australia, said Dick Pound, who was in Beijing to meet Chinese sports officials.

"They've got to increase the number of their tests," he said at a news conference. "That's an imbalance that is not commensurate with the size of this country."

Pound said he couldn't give a figure for how many tests China should perform. He said that would depend on the sophistication of the technology and how effectively random testing can be applied while athletes are training between competitions.

Pound was in Beijing to encourage Chinese authorities to step up anti-drug activities ahead of the 2008 Summer Games, a major prestige event for the communist government.

China launched an anti-doping crackdown after suffering a string of doping scandals in the 1990s. Athletes and coaches caught using drugs have been fined and banned from competition.

Pound said that he had told Chinese officials this week that ahead of the 2008 Games, "the world's image of China will be influenced by how you deal with this problem."

In the latest case, authorities announced in August they had found widespread doping at a school in China's northeast, involving athletes as young as 15. Investigators said they found 448 doses of erythropoietin, testosterone and steroids.

"That's a major breakdown," Pound said.

He said people involved received punishments including expulsion from the Chinese Communist Party -- a career-crippling penalty in China. He said he had no other information. Chinese authorities haven't released the results of the case.

Pound said China has made important strides in setting up analysis laboratories and in research on identifying new performance-enhancing substances that authorities should watch for.

But he said the country is "behind the curve" in anti-doping efforts for such a sports powerhouse.

"In a structural sense, everything is in place," he said. "They've now got to make it work."

Pound had said on Monday that China was among "many countries" that have been identified as sources of "perform enhancing drugs that have been sent to other countries."

He did not give specifics.

"Much of my visit here in China will be for the purpose of encouraging the proper authorities, in both sport and government, to increase the effort to bring China to the forefront of the fight against doping in sport," Pound said in a speech at Beijing's Sport University.

"An Olympic host country has the special responsibility, both at home and around the world to demonstrate its commitment to doping free sport," said Pound, who arrived in China on Sunday for a four-day visit.

Pound on Monday visited the testing labs at the China Doping Control Center in Beijing.

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