Athletics: Ma reveals his squad's operations: Chinese coach says 11 of his record-breaking team had appendixes removed
Thursday 13 October 1994
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.
Latest in Sport
MotoGP Qatar Grand Prix 2015: Five things we can expect this season plus what to look out for as Marc Marquez begins title defence
WrestleMania 31: What time does it start? Full match card and preview ahead of WWE event
Gareth Bale to Chelsea: Real Madrid to be 'tempted by £75m offer' this summer
Thierry Henry shows he's still got it with incredible pass against Jamie Carragher's side during Steven Gerrard tribute match
Manchester United transfer news: Chris Smalling and Phil Jones face uncertain future with contract renewal talks on hold
- 1 East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
- 2 Is this bridge haunted by the ghost of nu rave?
- 3 Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
- 4 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...