US and China clash over drugs row swimmer Ye after world record race
08:21 GMT, 31 July 2012
Senior officials from the USA and China have became embroilled in a row after the latter took exception to claims about Olympic swimming sensation Ye Shiwen.
The Chinese 16-year-old, who won 400m
individual medley gold in a world-record time on Saturday, was forced to deny using drugs after a respected US coach called her gold medal-winning performance ‘unbelievable' and 'disturbing'.
But the teen defiantly claimed her victory, which saw her outpace the winner of the men’s event, came purely from ‘hard work and training’.
Record breaker: Ye Shiwen knocked five seconds off her personal best and broke the world record by more than a second as she stormed to gold in the 400m individual medley
Beaten: Ryan Lochte, pictured, was slower than Ye over the last 50 metres of his own medley race
John Leonard, the US executive
director of the World Swimming Coaches Association, also made the extraordinary suggestion that the Chinese could be using genetic manipulation to enhance performances.
His claims came as anti-doping
officials revealed that cleaners and security staff have been asked to
spy on athletes in the Olympic Village and report anything suspicious
that could be linked to performance-enhancing drugs.
Outspoken: Top US swimming coach John Leonard called the feat 'unbelievable' and said history suggested doping could be involved
Miss Ye’s gold medal came after she swam the last 50m of the freestyle leg
in 28.93 seconds – compared with the 29.1 seconds that 27-year-old
American Ryan Lochte managed in the men’s event minutes earlier.
Her time for the whole event was more than five seconds better than her previous best.
Pressed on the use of drugs she told
the China News Service on Sunday night: ‘There is absolutely no problem with
doping. The Chinese have always had a firm policy about doping. My
results come from hard work and training and I would never use any
banned drugs. The Chinese people have clean hands.’
But Mr Leonard compared the final 100m
swum by Miss Ye as being ‘reminiscent’ of some old East German
swimmers, several of whom were subsequently exposed for using
He said Miss Ye looks like Superwoman,
adding: ‘Any time someone has looked like Superwoman in the history of
our sport they have later been found guilty of doping.’
If someone could outpace one of the
fastest male swimmers in the world and finish three-and-a-half lengths
ahead of her nearest female rival, he said, ‘all those things, I think,
legitimately call that swim into question’.
Proud: Ye said her success was due to her training since she was identified as a potential champion
Medal winners: Ye Shiwen shows off the gold alongside the United States' Elizabeth Beisel, left, and compatriot Li Xuanxu following the final
CHINA: A HISTORY OF DRUG USE
Questions over Shiwen's performance come after a string of Chinese swimmers tested positive for doping in recent years.
China won 12 of the 16 women's titles at the 1994 world championships in Rome but these achievements were sullied less than a month later when seven Chinese swimmers tested positive for banned drugs at the Asian Games in Hiroshima.
At the 1998 world championships in Perth, four Chinese competitors were sent home after testing positive for steroids. It came a week after one of their team mates and her coach were caught smuggling human growth hormone at Sydney Airport.
China's top backstroke swimmer and
record holder Ouyang Kunpeng, now 29, was given a lifetime ban after he
tested positive for the same substance a month before the 2008 Beijing
Olympics. The ban was later changed to two years.
In 2009, five junior Chinese swimmers were banned for two years by the country's swimming association after they tested positive for the anabolic agent clenbuterol – a performance-enhancing drug.
And in June Chinese state media said
16-year-old Li Zhesi, part of the country’s winning team at the 2009
World Championships, had tested positive for a performance-enhancing
drug, EPO, which boosts the body’s oxygen supplies.
‘It is a result that demands an explanation – it is
unprecedented,’ he told the Mail. Genetic manipulation in animals, he
said, had given added strength and oxygen usage. ‘Who knows what it can
do to humans’ he added.
And he said Miss Ye’s performance had
brought ‘back a lot of awful memories’ of Irish swimmer Michelle Smith’s
winning performance at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996.
Smith was banned
for four years in 1998 for tampering with a drugs test.
As a gold medal winner, Miss Ye will have been automatically drug-tested, as the first four in each race are routinely done.
On Sunday night she continued her
astonishing success by setting a new Olympic record in the semi-finals
of her best event, the 200m individual medley, with a time of 2 mins
Jonathan Harris, London 2012’s head of
anti-doping, said that organisers had made security, cleaning, events
services and others ‘very aware of the issue of doping, so if they were
to come across practices, paraphernalia, whatever it may be, then they
would bring it to our attention and, of course, we would investigate
this and treat it as intelligence.’
A source close to the British swimming
team, who did not want to be named, said: ‘There has been a
lot of talk since Saturday about the Chinese swimmers, particularly Ye,
and how they are managing to come out of nowhere and achieve these
'We all know about the kind of punishing regimes the
Chinese swimmers are put through.’
One insight came on Sunday. After
winning silver in the 100m butterfly, Chinese athlete Lu Ling said: ‘In
China we’re used to study, study and train, train and then rest. I think
our way of thinking has many limits. In Australia I’ve been invited to
barbecues with my teammates – that would never happen in China.’
Officials say there have been 1,461
drug tests carried out so far in this Olympics – no results are yet
known – and that testers can take samples at any time.
Reminiscent Irish swimmer Michelle Smith won four medals in Atlanta in 1996 – but was later found to have contaminated drug tests in an attempt to hide drug use