fredag 15 augusti 2008

"The best way to support a sport that has a doping problem is not to throw it out, but rather to help it."

Olympic lifters and cyclists mount doping offensive

Agence France-Presse

BEIJING - Weightlifting and cycling, struggling for Olympic credibility after fighting wearying doping battles, saw a North Korean shooter fingered as a cheat on Friday and took the opportunity to declare their sports clean.

As Kim Jong-Su, a silver and bronze medalist, was being kicked out of the Games after testing positive for beta-blockers, the Games' two most besieged sports hurried to mount their defense.

International Weightlifting Federation chief Tamas Ajan insisted that not one Beijing lifter has tested positive and rebuked those who had raised an eyebrow at China's Liu Chunhong's world-breaking effort in the women's 69kg contest.

"We don't have positive cases yet. We are very proud of this," the IWF boss said on the day China wrapped up their seventh gold in eight divisions.

Ajan said the federation was proud of the way it was cleaning up its sport with Bulgaria withdrawing its entire lifting team ahead of the Games after its members were caught in out-of competition testing.

But that didn't stop questions over Liu's efforts who was a huge 31kg clear of her nearest rival.

"The 31kg does not say anything," Ajan insisted. "The sport has some great talent," he added, citing Liu's "preparation" as the key.

Both Ajan and International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid took exception to comments by World Anti Doping Agency president John Fahey that cycling and weightlifting risked their Olympic futures if they continued to be plagued by doping.

"I'm very optimistic that weightlifting and cycling also will remain in the Olympic program," Ajan said.

McQuaid was equally stunned by Fahey's comments and his stance was backed by International Olympic Committee medical commission chief Arne Ljungqvist.

"The UCI has been one of the leading international federations in the fight against doping, which is not the case of some bigger federations," McQuaid told AFP last week.

"I don't believe you should punish a sport because it is finding cheats."

Ljungqvist added on Friday: "The best way to support a sport that has a doping problem is not to throw it out, but rather to help it.

"We hope we will be able to help the sport of cycling. We hope that Olympic cycling will be a cleaner sport than cycling in general is today."

Chinese swimmers also came under scrutiny after unknowns Liu Zige and Jiao Liuyang took gold and silver in the women's 200m butterfly.

Liu on Thursday smashed the world record by 1.22 seconds to lead teammate Jiao in a one-two finish ahead of Jessicah Schipper of Australia, giving China their first swimming gold of the Games.

Few had heard of Liu, 19, and Jiao, 17, but coach Pan Jiazhang insisted there was nothing untoward about their emergence.

"Look at how many times our swimmers have been tested, I assure you that this is a clean team," Pan was quoted as saying in the state-run China Daily.

"Why do they accuse us every time we are doing well? Why don't they look at those times when we are not good?"

Even US swimming superstar Michael Phelps found himself mounting a defense of his six Olympic golds, all of which have been achieved in world record times.

"Anyone can say whatever they want, I know, for me, I am clean," Phelps said.

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