Asian Games: China earn the approval of IOC: South Korea and Japan victorious in the pool as Kazakhstan win golds on debut

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(First Edition)

CHINA won the victory they probably most wanted at the Asian Games yesterday with a ringing endorsement by the world's top Olympic official that their sport was drug-free.

Their phenomenal women weightlifters set two more world records in the heaviest classes, taking their total to 16 since the games opened on Monday.

Their achievements, along with recent world-record performances by China's female swimmers and middle-distance athletes, have sparked suspicion from some western coaches.

But the International Olympic Committee president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, publicly gave the Chinese athletes a clean bill of health from doping.

Samaranch said that sport in China was 'very clean' and sources said the first batch of Asian Games drug tests showed every athlete was negative, including all China's first-day winners.

China were unable to match their earlier success rate as South Korean wrestlers, Japanese karate fighters and even a Taiwanese 10-pin bowler made their mark.

But they still ended the day with 28 gold medals overall, 15 more than their closest rivals, Japan. South Korea are next with six.

Other nations are making a mark on the medals table, the biggest surprise was two wrestling golds by Kazakhstan, one of five former Soviet republics, making their debut in the Asian Games.

Japan and South Korea called the brief halt to China's supremacy in the pool with Yukihiro Matsushita of Japan taking the men's 100m freestyle, while South Korea's Ji Sang Joon took the 200m backstroke title in a Games record.

The Chinese men lagged badly but nothing could stop the Chinese women from sweeping all before them, and at the mid-way point of the swimming events they have a 100 per cent record, with gold and silver in every individual event and gold in the 4x100m freestyle relay.

Samaranch also welcomed the easing of UN sanctions on the former Yugoslav republics of Serbia and Montenegro, and said that their athletes could now compete in international sport.

(Photograph omitted)