Mainland says criticism of testing policy unfair

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 August, 2007, 12:00am

Pressuring China to drastically increase the number of dope tests is unfair, say top mainland anti-doping officials.

Jiang Zhixue, deputy chief of the science and educational department of the State General Sports Administration (SGSA), said China was already at the forefront in trying to catch cheats.

'With 9,400 plus tests - 74 per cent of which were random out-of-competition ones - conducted last year and 10,000 expected this year, we already rank at the forefront of the world in terms of frequency of tests,' said Jiang, who was responding to World Anti Doping Agency president Dick Pound's recent criticism that China was not doing enough testing.

Pound, who is scheduled to visit Beijing from September 25-28, publicly vowed to exert further pressure on the mainland.

'They [the Chinese] are increasing the number of tests but they're not doing as many as they probably should,' he said. 'I think they are doing about the same as Australia - not many considering the different population sizes.'

But Zhao Jian, the chief of the anti-doping commission for the Chinese Olympic Committee, said the population-based approach was way off the mark.

'I would rather gauge the number against the population of elite athletes, which is around 20,000 in China,' said Zhao. 'I think the size of our testing programme is appropriate for that group.'

Zhao said he and his colleagues would rather concentrate on improving the efficiency of the existing system than a blind expansion. He also placed greater emphasis on a campaign to educate athletes and coaches about the hazards of using performance-enhancing substances. Both Zhao and Jiang agreed the Chinese Anti-Doping Centre, which will come into operation in a few months, would give the anti-doping cause further momentum.

'The centre will have department-level administrative status [one rung below the ministerial level in the communist administration], the highest of any previous anti-doping apparatus in China,' said Jiang.