A gold medal in the Beijing half-marathon was secured by a Chinese runner named He Jie last Sunday. However, yesterday He and three other athletes who came right after him were deprived of their medals due to a video footage showing that the other contenders intentionally let him win. Here is the video capturing the end of the race. 

The tweet mentions:

Chinese runner He Jie is currently part of the Chinese men’s marathon national team, the titleholder of the Hangzhou Asian Games, and the record holder in the men’s category nationally.

The Chinese athlete He is among the top long-distance runners in the nation and is set to take part in the upcoming Paris Olympics.

Today’s findings from the NY Times revealed a more intriguing scandal involving Chinese swimmers. The 2020 Olympics were postponed for a year due to the pandemic. Before the Olympics in early 2021, approximately 7 months prior to the games, 23 prominent Chinese swimmers tested positive for a prohibited substance called TMZ that has the potential to enhance performance. China investigated the doping allegations and cleared all of its athletes.

A number of athletes who tested positive, including almost half of China’s swimming team that participated in the Tokyo Games, proceeded to secure medals, including three golds. Many still represent China and a few, such as the double gold medalist Zhang Yufei, are anticipated to vie for more medals at this year’s Summer Games in Paris.

China acknowledged the positive tests in a report by its antidoping watchdog, stating that the swimmers had unknowingly ingested the prohibited substance in minute quantities, and therefore, no punitive action was deemed necessary.

How did these unintentional doping incidents involving two dozen elite athletes come about? A storyline is presented by China to clarify that.

According to their report, Chinese investigators noted that many top swimmers from the country had congregated at the same hotel for a domestic event in late 2020 and early 2021. After the swimmers were found positive for the banned substance a couple of months later, Chinese investigators discovered trace amounts of the substance in the hotel’s kitchen, a prescription heart medication known to enhance athletic performance.

Their report did not provide concrete evidence regarding the source of the substance, despite seeking assistance from China’s police force. Nevertheless, they concluded that the swimmers unwittingly consumed it in minor doses.

Why would a prescription heart medication be located in a kitchen? China never provided an explanation for this. It simply occurred somehow. Equally perplexing is the response from the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA), responsible for overseeing testing conducted by national bodies, which accepted this narrative. WADA determined that there was no proof contradicting China’s assertion as described, which seems an unusual approach to handling positive doping results.

Moreover, when a Russian athlete was found positive for the same substance during the same year, the reaction was quite different.

When Russia’s antidoping authority cleared teenage skater Kamila Valieva despite testing positive for TMZ in 2022, WADA contested their decision. It urged the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the body resolving disputes in global sports, to invalidate Russia’s decision to absolve Valieva, who was then still competing in the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Valieva claimed to be an inadvertent victim of contamination, the same reasoning provided by China for its swimmers. An appeals committee at Russia’s antidoping agency even supported Valieva’s claim that a low concentration of TMZ found in her system was traceable to a strawberry dessert prepared by her grandfather, who stated he had a prescription for the medication. The court promptly dismissed the claim citing lack of credibility.

WADA adopted a vastly different stance concerning the Chinese swimmers. Despite China failing to trace the origin of TMZ, WADA remarked that it had “concluded that it was not in a position to disprove the possibility that contamination was the source of TMZ” and saw no reason to challenge China’s decision of taking no action.

The Russian skater was ultimately banned for four years. Conversely, the Chinese swimmers, as mentioned earlier, proceeded to clinch a multitude of Olympic medals.

Following a positive test for a forbidden substance by an athlete, the government is obliged to, at the very least, make the outcomes public. However, this did not occur in this instance. Due to China fabricating the narrative regarding a restaurant kitchen, no announcement was ever made. 

China’s explanation is that the substance detected in samples was minute, a negligible amount from food contamination incapable of enhancing performance. Nevertheless, critics point out that evidence of such substances gradually diminishes from the body. Thus, perhaps these 23 athletes were caught while tapering off a much higher dosage. This explanation is much more plausible than the one involving the restaurant.

The global authority, WADA, seems to have entirely overlooked the situation for reasons that remain unclear. However, the American counterpart, the United States Anti-Doping Agency, believes the Chinese were deceiving.

“This appears to be a significant betrayal to the athletes playing fair and adhering to the rules,” mentioned Travis T. Tygart, CEO of the U.S. antidoping agency. “Those found guilty in hiding these positives and silencing brave whistle-blowers must face full accountability as per the regulations and laws.”

Chinese sports participants bagged 38 gold medals in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. They were a close second to the US, which secured 39 gold medals. The upcoming Paris Summer Olympics commence in approximately three months.

Lastly, it’s crucial to note that this isn’t the first instance where a leading Chinese Olympic swimmer has been accused of doping.