China’s proposed doping law may be only as good as the rice paper it will be written on

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© Copyright – 2018 – Athletics Illustrated

According to Inside the Games, the Chinese government is going to make doping in China a criminal offence. Any athletes that break the law will be handed jail terms and “criminal punishments”.

Originally reported in the national news service Xinhua, the Chinese sports ministry is currently drafting a proposal for the law.

The government will put into law, doping as a criminal offence in early 2019, according to Xinhua.

This isn’t new, China is following Germany’s lead, who introduced a similar measure in 2015. In early December 2018, US Senators introduced the Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act in the House of Representatives.

According to Inside the Games, Xue Yinxian, a former Chinese team doctor alleged that the country ran a compulsory doping program during the 1980s and 1990s. Perhaps they were not as sloppy as Russia was with similar allegations as well as apparent bribes and extortion schemes against their own athletes when they tested positive.

Currently, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is stickhandling a team of five people to enter the notorious drug lab that was disguised as a test laboratory in Moscow; it was at the centre of the systematic doping allegations. Russia has been busy stalling the team with potential bogus reasons like, “the testing tools are not certified in Russia.”

During the 1990s, in China, an athletics coach named Ma Junren operated a team-systematic doping program that propelled many women to sudden world-record times in distances from 1500-metres to the 10,000-metres. For three decades their gaudy records stood.

Until 2015, when Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba broke the world 1500-metre record with her Monaco Diamond League performance of 3:50.07, the first four times in the world belonged to four Chinese athletes from two track meets in Beijing and Shanghai, respectively. Qu Yunxia, Jiang Bo, Lang Yinglai and Wang Junxia had run 3:50.46 to 3:51.92 seemingly out of nowhere.

Junxia recently said that she told the media in China at the time that she believed she was being doped by Junren, but they wouldn’t publish the story out of fear of retribution.

Junxia also held the world record in the 10,000-metre event from a meet in Beijing. In 1993, she ran 29:31.78. It was during the Rio Olympic Games that another Ethiopian, Almaz Ayana, broke that time with a stunning 29:17.45. Some people feel that Ethiopia should be investigated as well.

Her answer to doping allegations was, “My doping is my training, my doping is my Jesus.”

In 2016, Somalian athletics coach Jama Aden was arrested in a hotel in Sabadell, Spain. He was under surveillance for a month and when the raid took place 20 of 22 athletes staying at the hotel were tested for drugs, on the spot.

To invest that amount of money and time, the Spanish police must have had information to move forward with. The arrest and test results were quietly swept under the rug. This one smells of payola.

Of the athletes that Aden coached or associated with include all three of the Dibaba sisters as well as Mo Farah, the six-time world championships gold medallist in the 5,000 and 10,000-metre events – three each. He is also the four-time champion from the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Farah was also associated with Alberto Salazar who was under investigation for apparently questionable practices related to doping, although to date, nothing has been proven.

Considering the level and depth of corruption in sport – a government making doping a criminal offence – especially with the track record of the Chinese – smells of “if you are caught by testing authorities, it is illegal.”

For optics, they need to allow WADA to independently test their athletes.

Interestingly, famed Italian athletics coach Renato Canova appeared to have deserted his entire stable of world-class middle and long distance runners from Africa on short notice, to take up a coaching position in China. At the time (2015) Athletics Kenya gave all un-registered coaches one week to vacate the country. Canova was quick to go.

Several of his athletes have either tested positive or have been suspected of doping.

Canova is famous for the hypothesis that performance-enhancing drugs or at least EPO does not work on East Africans. He is firm on this assumption, even in the face of a large increase in positive tests, at least 32 from Kenya in 2015 – they continue to be caught in greater numbers. The latest is the case of Aspel Kiprop. The Athletics Integrity Unit is taking its time with this case. It has been over a year.

Much of the increase in positive doping tests has to do with having the ability to test athletes. Until recently, WADA and the IAAF could not get testing equipment into Kenya, but now can. They currently are unable to get into Ethiopia – a more closed society – the Ethiopians continue to run unabated.

Both China and Ethiopia should not be left to test their own athletes. In China’s case, shades of Junren (known as Ma’s Army), apparently he wasn’t arrested for doping his athletes, he was arrested for being caught doping his athletes.