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Doping Control in China

    The attitude of the Chinese Olympic Committee towards doping in sport is very clear and its policy has been consistent: Seriously banning, strictly examining and severely punishing. Over the years the COC has all along adhered to the international anti-doping regulations laid down by the IOC, the WADA and IFs, although China is comparatively a latecomer in this field owing to lack of information and testing techniques.

    China started anti-doping action in the early '80s, when players in the 1981 World Ice Hockey Championships Group C held in Beijing received doping tests under the supervision of the International Ice Hockey Federation. After this, doping tests were also carried out at all major international competitions held in China. But the urine samples were sent to IOC-accredited labs in other countries like Britain, Japan and Canada.

    To carry out a more effective fight against doping, particularly in preparation for the XIth Asian Games to be held in Beijing, China began construction of a doping control lab in 1986. The lab was accredited by the IOC Medical Commission towards the end of 1989. From then on, China has undertaken all the tests in a lab of its own. At the same time, the COC put forward a clear policy of "Seriously banning, strictly examining and severely punishing" against doping in sport, and drug testing in China has been enforced on a regular basis even there are no competitions, with the COC Medical Commission and various sports associations being responsible for the task.

    As a whole, the following measures have been taken for doping control:

    1. Working out principles and regulations
    -- Official documents have been issued to all levels of sports associations and organizations, with emphasis on the implementation of "Three S" policy.
    -- Types and lists of prohibited drugs have been published and disciplinary measures promulgated.
    -- All sports associations are required to conduct banned drug tests at major national competitions.
    -- Starting from 1992, some associations (track & field, swimming, weightlifting, rowing and canoeing, etc.) are required to carry out unannounced out-of-competition tests.

    2. Publicity and education
    In 1992, a special videotape and booklet on doping control education were published as reference material for the Chinese Sports Delegation to the Barcelona Olympic Games and for sports associations.

Lectures on doping control have been given at national and local meetings on sports training and competition, scientific conferences and coaching clinics, to keep the attendants informed of the anti-doping campaign at home and abroad, of the harms of drugs to health and to the cause of sport.

Full use has been made of mass media for doping control education and the "Three S" policy.

    3. Supervision and guidance over individual sports associations
Special persons are assigned by the anti-doping commission of the Chinese Olympic Committee to all the major national competitions organized by sports associations to give guidance and supervision in regard to the number of athletes and events chosen for tests and the process of sample collection. Financial help is also provided in regard to instruments and expenses.

    4. Information and participation in international conferences
China has taken an active part in international conferences on doping control, including all World Symposiums, to keep abreast of the latest developments in the world.
The banned drug list published by the Chinese Olympic Committee is identical with that of the IOC and all additions have been included shortly after they were published by the IOC.
Every year, Chinese experts are sent to international workshops on doping held in Cologne and elsewhere. Young scholars are dispatched abroad to study new techniques in doping control labs.

    Chinese athletes are not living in isolation. Under the debasing influence of the society they find themselves in, some positive cases have been reported from among them in recent years. For a more effective doping control, we deem it necessary to carry on the "Three S" policy and broaden the scope of out-of-competition tests and, at the same time, to strengthen education among the athletes.

    However, while we are fighting against doping in sport like many other countries and sports organizations, there is a practical problem facing us today.

    In China and some other Asian countries, many people have the habit of taking herbs for their medicinal or nutritional values. Owing to the complex composition of those herbs, we are still unclear about whether they contain one kind or another of banned substances. Knowing little about medicine and doping, some of our athletes, coaches, and even team doctors are apt to mistake some herbs for natural materials without any banned substance in them. Furthermore, most of the herbs are available at market without showing a doctor's prescription. Consequently, there have been some positive cases in which some traditional Chinese herbs with an unknown banned substance has been taken through ignorance. For instance, the nux-vomica seed is a kind of medical herb that contains a substance called strychnine in the Western school of medicine. But it is difficult to determine nux-vomica seed as a prohibited drug from the herbal point of view.

    Tests have been made on some medical herbs. But there are too many herbs to test them all in a short period of time; it will involve a huge amount of work and money. In this connection, we would like to join efforts with other countries, especially Asian countries, to solve the problem. At present, we are doing our best to keep our athletes away from medical herbs whose composition we are still not clear about.

    In summary, the State Physical Culture and Sports Commission (now State Sport General Administration) and the COC have so far drafted and promulgated 30 decrees and specific regulations on anti-doping, which constitute the central part of the law system for doping control in China. In 1989, the "Three S" policy was put into effect. In 1992, the COC Anti-Doping Commission was set up to take charge of dope control in the whole country. In 1995, the following basic principles were put forward for anti-doping education among Chinese athletes: "Do not use any banned substance even if you fail to get a gold medal; do not use any banned substance even if others use it; do not use any banned substance even if it cannot be found out; and do not use any banned substance even if you are urged to do so." Moreover, Article 34 of China's Sports Law, which took effect on October 1, 1995, stipulates that "Use of banned drugs and methods is strictly forbidden in sports activities. Institutions in charge of testing banned drugs shall conduct strict examination of the banned drugs and methods." Article 50 stipulates that "Whoever resorts to banned drugs or methods in sports activities shall be punished by the relevant public sports organization in accordance with provisions of its articles; State functionaries who are held directly responsible shall be subject to administrative sanctions in accordance with law."

    It is clear, therefore, that the use of banned drugs is not only considered immoral in China, but is also forbidden by law. In the future, the COC will, on the one hand, continue to carry on the campaign to educate athletes and coaches and all those concerned not to take stimulants secretly or by mistake and, on the other hand, work together with other sports organizations, national and international, to fight against doping to the finish, and take more strict measures to safeguard the pureness of the Olympic Movement and ensure the healthy development of sport in China.

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