Ma alleges drug use rampant in the West

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 February, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 February, 1997, 12:00am

OUTSPOKEN mainland coach Ma Junren said yesterday the worst-kept secret in athletics was that Western countries had been using drugs to boost the performance of their athletes for decades. And the only reason they had not been caught more often, he said, was because of superior technology.

Speaking at a seminar for local coaches and athletes at the Baptist University of Hong Kong, Ma said: 'Western countries have a very long history in medicine. They have been inventing and experimenting with new drugs.

'Once they find a better drug, they use it [to boost performance] and put the old one on the banned list. That's why they don't break the law. 'Some of the contents in banned drugs can be used to cure illnesses. But since China does not have much experience in Western medicine, we had problems at the last Asian Games.' Seven Chinese swimmers at the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima, Japan, received worldwide suspensions after testing positive for banned substances.

Ma said he did not encourage athletes to use drugs of any kind.

'I prefer using Chinese herbs and other nutritious food to help athletes recover their energy,' he said.

Ma is famous for giving turtle blood and slug paste soup to his charges, including women's 5,000 and 10,000 metres world record holder Wang Junxia , who left his 'Army' of athletes in 1994.

The 52-year-old coach said he had now discovered a soup - made of a special kind of fish - which is even more effective than the turtle blood.

'I'm still preparing it and I haven't given it to my athletes yet,' said Ma.

'This fish has a lower fat content than turtle and it's much cheaper.' 'Coaches also have to plan the training and races carefully so their runners do not become ill or exhausted.

'It takes at least eight years to train a world-class runner.' Meanwhile, two of Ma's charges, Yin Lili and Wang Xiaoxia , will compete in today's adidas King of the Road race in Tin Shui Wai, Yuen Long.