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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick