Drugs and bribes claims hit China's Olympic rehearsal

The week-long National Games - staged in the presence of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge - closed on Sunday amid serious questions over China's readiness to stage a fair Olympics.

Despite the six world records that were set, the most abiding images of the games were the 1996 Olympic champion Sun Fuming conceding her judo bout in just one second (allegations of match-fixing quickly followed), and of the coach of the runner-up in the women's 1500 metres on her knees in front of the judges, begging them to disqualify the winner. The judges obliged.

In a further blow to national prestige, Sun Yingjie, China's top female distance runner, failed a drugs test and was thrown out of the games.

The scandals have highlighted how Chinese sport remains tainted by the corruption prevalent in the sporting systems of the former Soviet Union and East Germany.

China still adheres to the Soviet model, where children are selected for state-run sports schools at an early age, subjected to strict discipline, and trained by coaches who impart the unwavering message that winning is everything.

With local governments prepared to reward successful athletes and their coaches with cash, expensive cars and luxury apartments, some officials and coaches are more than willing to bend the rules.

Before the games, the most prestigious sporting event in China before the Olympics, Xiao Tan, the vice-director of China's State General Administration of Sport (CSGAS), had emphasised the significance of the championships. "It has the important task of a rehearsal for the Olympics," he said.

But the sportsmanship that the Olympic ideal embodies was conspicuous by its absence during the 12 days of competition in the city of Nanjing in Jiangsu Province.

Millions of Chinese fans watched in disbelief as the final of the women's 78kg judo competition lasted one second. Sun Fuming, the favourite, collapsed, after a hand signal from her coach, when her opponent, the PLA's Yan Sirui, had barely touched her.

Following predictable howls of protest from the spectators, CSGAS officials ordered a re-match, which Sun lost as well. However, her coach, Liu Yongfu, escaped with a warning despite admitting that the result had been determined beforehand .

The same thing happened in the men's 80kg judo event, with the PLA athlete winning while his opponent "forfeited due to injury".

Mass forfeits rendered the taekwondo and boxing competitions meaningless, while gymnasts complained that their results had been fixed before their events started.

Three wrestling judges were banned for life after taking bribes, and some athletes did not attend medal ceremonies in protest at what they thought were more dubious judging decisions.

Commentators blamed the match-fixing on the points-sharing system introduced in 1997 and designed to boost the prestige of the PLA, the Chinese armed forces, team. Under the system, provincial teams are encouraged to lend athletes to the PLA, with the incentive that if the athlete wins, then the PLA and the provincial team receive a medal.

Sun's opponent in the judo final was from her province of Liaoning but on loan to the PLA so, if she won, both teams would receive a medal instead of one team if Sun had won.

Despite the scandals that tarnished the reputations of some of China's best-known athletes, there was no doubting the determination of the Chinese to put on a show for Mr Rogge and other IOC members.

Jiangsu Province spent more than £7bn on improving sporting infrastructure and facilities and the elaborate opening ceremony ended with a flying robot lighting the torch for the games.

The reception given to Liu Xiang, the Athens 110-metre hurdles champion and the first Chinese athlete to win an Olympic track and field gold medal, showed the fervour with which the Chinese people embrace their sporting heroes.

But while no one disputed his gold medal, CSGAS officials must now clean up Chinese athletics with Beijing's Olympics less than three years away. "We will show no mercy to offenders," said Liu Peng, the minister responsible for the CSGAS.

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
weird news... and film it, obviously
Arts & Entertainment
tv
News
Matthew Mcnulty and Jessica Brown Findlay in 'Jamaica Inn'
mediaHundreds complain over dialogue levels in period drama
News
peopleJay Z and Beyoncé to buy £5.5m London townhouse
Voices
voicesMoyes' tragedy is one the Deputy PM understands all too well, says Matthew Norman
Arts & Entertainment
Rocker of ages: Chuck Berry
musicWhy do musicians play into old age?
Arts & Entertainment
With Jo Joyner in 'Trying Again'
tvHe talks to Alice Jones on swapping politics for pillow talk
News
Jilly's jewels: gardener Alan Titchmarsh
peopleCountry Life magazine's list of 'gallant' public figures throws light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Sport
John Terry goes down injured in the 70th minute
sportAtletico Madrid 0 Chelsea 0: Blues can finish the job at Stamford Bridge, but injuries to Terry and Cech are a concern for Mourinho
Student
student
News
<b>Rebecca Adlington</b>
<br />This, the first British swimmer to win two
Olympic gold medals in 100 years, is the eversmiling
face of the athletes who will, we're
confident, make us all proud at London 2012
peopleRebecca Adlington on 'nose surgery'
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Clinical Negligence

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence - Oxford An opportunity f...

Projects Financial Analyst - Global Technology firm

£55000 - £62000 per annum + outstanding benefits and bonus: Pro-Recruitment Gr...

Reception Teacher

£120 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Reception teacher required for an Outs...

Commercial B2B Pricing Specialist - Global Bids and Tenders

£35000 - £45000 per annum + excellent company benefits : Pro-Recruitment Group...

Day In a Page

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home

It's not always fun in the sun: Moving abroad does not guarantee happiness

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home
Migrants in Britain a decade on: They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire

Migrants in Britain a decade on

They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire
Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?
Why musicians play into their old age

Why musicians play into their old age

Nick Hasted looks at how they are driven by a burning desire to keep on entertaining fans despite risking ridicule
How can you tell a gentleman?

How can you tell a gentleman?

A list of public figures with gallant attributes by Country Life magazine throws a fascinating light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

The duo behind Asos and Achica have launched a new venture offering haute couture to help make furry companions fashionable
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire
Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Celebrate St George’s Day with a nice cup of tea. Now you just need to get the water boiled
Sam Wallace: Why Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term

Sam Wallace

Why Ryan Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term
Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Having smashed Sergei Bubka's 21-year-old record, the French phenomenon tells Simon Turnbull he can go higher
Through the screen: British Pathé opens its archives

Through the screen

British Pathé opens its archives
The man behind the papier mâché mask

Frank Sidebottom

The man behind the papier mâché mask
Chris Marker: Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Chris Marker retrospective is a revelation
Boston runs again: Thousands take to the streets for marathon as city honours dead and injured of last year's bombing

Boston runs again

Thousands of runners take to the streets as city honours dead of last year
40 years of fostering and still holding the babies (and with no plans to retire)

40 years of fostering and holding the babies

In their seventies and still working as specialist foster parents