BEIJING: Two Chinese swimmers who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs have been given only warnings as a result, the national swimming body said as the World Anti-Doping Agency investigates an alleged cover-up.
The pair, Wang Lizhuo and An Jiabao, tested positive for muscle-building drug clenbuterol, the China Swimming Association (CSA) said in separate statements on its website.
“A warning will be given to the offending athlete” read each statement, describing the decision as a “punishment” in both cases.
Their coaches will be fined 5,000 yuan ($770), and their teams 10,000 yuan.
Neither Wang, who swims for the navy, nor An, whose team is Tianjin, have competed at the Olympics or world championships.
They were among six athletes who failed doping tests in recent months, the official Xinhua news agency cited the CSA as saying last week.
Three of those — none of them identified — were for hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic that can be used to mask performance-enhancing drugs.
That announcement, weeks ahead of China’s national championships, came after Britain’s Times newspaper cited whistle-blowers as saying five positive tests had been hidden to avoid a storm.
The Times report was another blow to the sport’s image, shortly after a possible doping scandal was revealed in Russia.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said it was investigating both Beijing and Moscow for alleged cover-ups.
Xinhua cited the deputy director of China’s anti-doping agency denying the results had been covered up, and that it had reported the six cases to WADA.
The warnings to Wang and An revealed by the CSA when it posted its statements on Monday are significantly lighter than the stringent sentences issued to clenbuterol users in other sports.
Former Australian National Rugby League player Sandor Earl was in October banned for four years by the game’s anti-doping tribunal for using, possessing and trafficking a medley of drugs that included clenbuterol.
In 2012, cyclist Alberto Contador was stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title and banned for two years after testing positive for the performance-enhancer.
In 2011, Chinese swimmer Ning Zetao was banned for a year after being found with clenbuterol in his system.
The drug has sometimes been used illegally by Chinese meat producers to make pork more lean.
Some Chinese athletes have in the past avoided commercially sold meat for fear of ingesting the substance. AFP