Wong won't lose Games gold after failing doping test as a professional
Hong Kong's 2010 Asian Games BMX champion banned for doping, but the city's Olympic committee says it will take no further action
Hong Kong cyclist Steven Wong will not be stripped of his Asian Games gold medal and the HK$400,000 reward he received for it after it emerged yesterday that he failed a doping test last year.
"It happened after he quit the Hong Kong team and joined professional cycling," said Hong Kong Olympic Committee honorary secretary Pang Chung yesterday. "It has nothing to do with the gold medal he won at the Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010 and we will not take any further action unless new evidence appears."
A press statement from his team, Champion System, said they had immediately terminated Wong's contract when he was banned for two years by the International Cycling Union (UCI) in June last year.
Born to a Hong Kong father and a Belgian mother in the European nation, the 24-year-old first represented Hong Kong in the BMX event at the 2005 National Games in Nanjing, where he won a gold medal. He added East Asian Games gold in Hong Kong in 2009, then Asian Games gold in Guangzhou in 2010. He quit the discipline the following year and took up road racing for the then newly established Hong Kong-based Champion System.
It emerged yesterday that he failed a World Anti-Doping Agency out-of-competition test in Belgium for steroids in April last year and received the ban two months later after stating he would not appeal.
Pang said the incident would damage the image of Hong Kong athletes, but since Wong had already joined professional cycling, the city's authorities had no control over his behaviour.
"He was a member of a professional club when he was found guilty," Pang said. "We all know about the doping problems in professional cycling and the rider should also have been aware of it, but he let everyone down.
"This will affect the image of Hong Kong athletes to some extent but our stance is very clear: zero tolerance of any form of doping. What we need to do is to keep providing our athletes with moral and education programmes, so that they will distance themselves from cheating, and to let them know the serious consequences of getting caught."
Champion System yesterday released a statement in which Wong apologised.
"I have let a lot of people down including the club management, my teammates and sponsors," the statement said. "I will take full responsibility for my actions."
The club claimed that the steroid got into his system accidentally through a medical cream.
Hong Kong Cycling Association chairman Leung Hung-tak said the governing body would consider giving Wong another chance once the suspension was served, while veteran rider Wong Kam-po expressed his sympathy.
"In professional cycling, there have been many cases of doping because of the incentives for riders to do well, but there is zero tolerance of doping in the Hong Kong team set-up and there has never been a [doping] case since our coach, Shen Jinkang, took charge some 20 years ago," Wong Kam-po said.
There have been few prominent doping cases involving Hong Kong athletes.
In 2009, Johnny Lau Chun-leung, a swimmer, was banned for two years by world governing body Fina after he was found guilty of using steroids at a meet in September that year.
A year later, former badminton world No 1 Zhou Mi was banned for two years after testing positive for clenbuterol.