BEIJING (AP) -- Seeking to counter allegations that its athletes cheat with drugs, China said Friday that its doping record was far better than international norms.
Sports officials told the state-run China Sports Daily that the average rate of positive doping tests has fallen from about 1.6 percent in the early 1990s to about 0.6 percent now, below the worldwide 1998 figure of 1.8 percent.
The Chinese Olympic Committee and government sports administrators attributed their success to a mounting effort since 1989 to root out and punish dope cheats.
"We feel it's very necessary to use this moment to reflect on and sum up the anti-doping struggle," said sports official Shi Kangcheng, who wanted to address the issue before next month's Sydney Olympics.
He said that China's anti-doping efforts have been recognized by the international sports community, but that more needs to be done to pass the message.
"There are also people who don't understand the facts or who are biased who still use the doping issue to attack China's sporting world," he said.
Drug scandals mainly involving Chinese swimmers in the 1990s fueled foreign suspicions that the country relies heavily on doping for sporting success.
Chinese sports officials blame individual athletes, insisting they never ran an East German-type systematic doping program.
Chinese sports federations have in the past 10 years punished 122 athletes who failed domestic drug tests, officials claim.