A former doctor for the Chinese Olympic team during the 1980s and 1990s has turned whistleblower. Xue Yinxian, now 79 years old, claims that during her tenure, over 10,000 Chinese athletes, including weightlifters, swimmers, and gymnasts, were involved in doping.
On a recent German documentary, she asserted that doping was compulsory and athletes not willing to participate had to leave the team. The doping began as young as age 11 for some athletes, she says, and recalls boys aged around 13 growing breasts. China won sixty Olympic medals during the 1984 and 1988 Olympics, including four weightlifting gold medals in 1984.
Medals were tainted by doping – gold, silver and bronze. There must have been more than 10,000 people involved. People believed only in doping, anyone who took doping substances was seen to be defending the country. All international medals [won by Chinese athletes in that time] should be taken back.
There’s likely little chance of this happening, since the statute of limitations has long since passed.
She was allegedly dismissed from her role as an Olympic doctor at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 after refusing to provide a banned substance to a gymnast, but stayed working in Chinese sports at lower levels. During the 1990s and 2000s she says she was repeatedly visited by government officials, particularly during high profile sporting events, and warned against speaking out about her experiences. Xue fled China for Germany in 2012, saying she no longer felt safe in Beijing.
“Anyone against doping damaged the country and anyone who endangered the country now sits in prison,” she told ARD. “They warned me against talking about doping substances. They urged me to back down. I said I couldn’t do that. They wanted to silence me… both of my sons lost their jobs.”
This isn’t the first time China’s Olympic athletes have been accused of doping — in February, athletes trained by Chinese track coach Ma Junren said that they had been forced to take performance-enhancing drugs. Earlier this week, China’s one-year suspension from international weightlifting began as a result of retests from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. But the accusations have never reached this scale.
The World Anti-Doping Agency has released a statement that says although it was only formed in 1999, it “has asked its independent Intelligence and Investigations team to initiate an investigative process in order to collect and analyze available information in coordination with external partners.”
Featured image via Frank Rothwell on YouTube.