China tackles doping scourge

BEIJING - Chinese sports officials yesterday reported a record low of 0,2 percent positive doping tests last year but warned of continuing problems in sports such as weightlifting.

BEIJING - Chinese sports officials yesterday reported a record low of 0,2 percent positive doping tests last year but warned of continuing problems in sports such as weightlifting.

Fifteen positive results from 10238 tests last year was the lowest ratio since China began its fight against doping in 1990, state media quoted sports minister Liu Peng as saying.

"We always take the zero-tolerance stand towards doping cheats and will try our best to make sure that we send a clean Chinese squad to the Beijing Olympic Games," the official Xinhua news agency quoted Liu as saying at a national meeting of top sports officials.

The tests last year included 8856 on Chinese athletes. But Jiang Zhixue, head of the ministry's anti-doping work, said sports such as weightlifting remained a "minefield" for officials.

"Seven positive cases were found in weightlifting events, accounting for almost half of the total last year, including two national team members," the agency quoted Jiang as saying.

"This awoke us to the fact that there are certain loopholes in national teams' management, although we are making headway in doping control," he said.

In November, China formally relaunched its anti-doping agency in a new high-technology centre that will support the campaign to root out drug users in sport and serve next year's Olympics.

During the Olympics in August, the staff will increase from 60 to about 150, including some 20 foreign experts, the Beijing Olympic organising committee said.

The International Olympic Committee plans to conduct 4500 doping tests at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, up from 3600 in Athens. But some international athletics officials feel China is not doing enough to prevent doping. - Sapa-DPA

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