Asian Games

Hong Kong fencer Coco Lin apologises after traditional Chinese medicine nearly ruins her Asian Games dream

The 23-year-old receives only a reprimand despite a positive test as Hong Kong take silver in the women’s épée at the Asian Championships

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 June, 2018, 8:20pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 June, 2018, 10:47pm

Upcoming fencer Coco Lin Yik-hei has apologised after a doping incident almost ruined her dream of competing in the Asian Games in Indonesia this summer.

Lin was part of the Hong Kong women’s team that took silver after losing a nail-biter to China 35-34 in the final of the women’s épée at the Asian Fencing Championships in Bangkok on Friday night.

After spraining her right ankle in April, Lin enlisted the services of a bonesetter to accelerate her recovery, a move that proved more negative than positive.

Lin was given traditional Chinese medication by the bonesetter and a doping test two days later turned up a banned substance.

The 23-year-old, a scholarship athlete at the Sports Institute where fencing is a tier A programme, posted on social media this week that she had been temporarily suspended for two weeks by the Hong Kong Anti-Doping Committee leading up to the tournament in Bangkok.

Her name was also removed from the 2018 Asian Games squad after the Hong Kong Fencing Association had confirmed the list.

She was asked to provide an adequate explanation or face a two-year suspension when she was informed of the test results early this month.

After a hearing, Lin received only a reprimand allowing her to compete in this week’s regional championships.

“I am a professional athlete and must take responsibility for the drugs I have taken,” Lin said. “It’s my own negligence that has affected not only my career but also the image of Hong Kong athletes.

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“I have grown up quite a bit the past month, learnt to take the greatest caution with all medications that I put inside my body, and to stay strong in difficult situations.

“Thank you for all the love, care and support over the past two weeks from the fencing association, sports institute, my family, friends, teammates, coaches and the media. I’m deeply sorry for all the confusion caused for all parties at such a critical moment.”

The Hong Kong women’s épée team also features Vivian Kong Man-wai, the individual champion in Bangkok, and bronze medallist Kaylin Hsieh Sin-yan, who knocked Lin out of the competition in the quarter-finals. Lin’s top-eight result was her best finish in five appearances at the Asian Championships.

Friday night’s result was Hong Kong’s second silver of the week after the men’s foil team lost to South Korea in the final.

But gold medals from Cheung Siu-lun and Kong, in the men’s individual foil and women’s individual épée, respectively, ensured Hong Kong’s best result in the regional event and gave them a strong boost before the Asian Games this summer.

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The women’s team’s épée silver was also their best performance in the event, with Hong Kong taking bronze in every tournament since 2001.

Kong, the individual champion, was in superb form and matched the class of her mainland counterparts, with China headed by Olympic bronze medallist and world number two Sun Yiwen.

China went in as favourites and were in control of the game until Hsieh closed the gap to 29-27 in the second last session.

Kong gave her all in the final three-minute session but her opponent managed to hold on for a tight victory.