Athletics: Ma reveals his squad's operations: Chinese coach says 11 of his record-breaking team had appendixes removed

THE Chinese coach Ma Junren revealed yesterday that 11 of his long- distance runners had their appendixes removed last year.

Ma's disclosure of the operations, which affect more than half of his squad, was the first detailed account of the reasons for their dramatic loss of form after a world record-breaking romp late last year.

It also adds to the mystique which has swirled around the team since their abrupt withdrawal from this year's grand prix circuit and departure from the public eye.

'We had to stop training last year because we were getting sick. We were having toxicological problems and that is why we are running slower times,' Ma said. 'Eleven of Ma's Family Army members had to have their appendices removed and they needed to recover from their operations.'

Ma, famed for feeding his squad of around 20 athletes potions of turtle's blood and Chinese herbs, did not elaborate on the causes of poisoning.

Leading sports doctors reacted with amazement to the mass appendix removal. 'It is remarkable because it is a very high frequency for a very small group of athletes in a very limited time span. It sounds astonishing,' said Arne Ljungqvist, the chairman of the medical commission of the International Amateur Athletics Federation, track and field's world governing body.

The Japanese team doctor Ichiro Kono said he believed there were 'rare' cases when intense training provoked appendicitis. 'According to some research, in very rare cases a highly active person undergoing intense training can provoke appendicitis,' Kono said.

Ma's women have baffled doctors, observers and critics alike since bursting into the spotlight at the World Championships in Stuttgart in August last year, and reaping a crop of golds.

The following month, Wang Junxia, one of the runners revealed to have had her appendix out, went on to lop an astonishing 42 seconds off the 10,000 metres world record at the Chinese championships. Her time was 29min 31.78sec.

Ma's record of stunning results have drawn criticism from Western coaches who accused him of using banned substances to improve performances, allegations strongly denied by the coach who says they are the result of advanced training methods.

However, Ljungqvist again leapt to Ma's defence, saying there was still no evidence of doping. 'I am totally against these unfounded allegations,' he said.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?