Top Olympic organizer praises China
BEIJING (AP) -- The top organizer for the Sydney Olympics praised China's efforts to clamp down on doping that has marred the country's record-breaking performances and could jeopardize its bid for the 2008 Games.
During his last stop abroad before the Games begin Sept. 15, Michael Knight, president of the Sydney organizers, said he was impressed with China's anti-doping efforts at the national level. But he acknowledged that completely ending the practice could be impossible, especially at lower levels of competition.
"No nation, including Australia, is free from athletes and coaches who have the temptation to use banned performance-enhancing substances," Knight said.
In the 1990s, China had the worst doping record in the world, and its athletes will probably be scrutinized more than any in Sydney. Dozens of Chinese athletes, swimmers mostly, have tested positive for steroids, stimulants, or diuretics meant to mask the banned drugs during testing.
China has begun intensive drug testing and has imposed penalties harsher than those required by world swimming rules. First-time steroid offenders can face up to a lifetime ban, compared with a four-year ban set by FINA, the governing body of world swimming.
China dropped swimming star Wu Yanyan from its Olympics team because she allegedly tested positive for steroids in May. Wu, world champion in the women's 200-metre individual medley, has said she is clean and plans to challenge the decision.
Beijing is competing with Toronto and other cities to hold the 2008 Olympics, though its bid could be endangered if Chinese athletes fail doping tests in Sydney.
Other countries bidding include Bangkok, Cairo, Istanbul, and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
"Beijing has an excellent bid for the 2008 Games," Knight said. "I have no doubt ... Beijing would host an excellent Games."