Drugs in Sport: Chinese begin campaign of prevention

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CHINA'S sports officials announced plans yesterday for an anti-drugs education campaign, saying that sportsmen and women coveted fame and fortune more than they feared being caught for using performance-enhancing drugs.

The state sports commission director, Wu Shaozu, told a national anti-doping seminar in Peking. 'We are shifting our focus from detection to education and prevention. Action must be taken.'

Wu said he was appalled by the number of leading Chinese performers detected using banned substances and expressed the fear that dreams of 'overnight fame and phenomenal fortune' were clouding their judgement. He said he would issue a nationwide decree laying out international doping standards and authorising tight checks backed up by penalties at least as harsh as those demanded overseas.

Apart from facing mandatory sentences imposed by the international sports federations, domestic penalties would range from 'moral criticism' to disciplinary and even legal action, he said.

The Chinese doping centre director, Yuan Weimin, said that 33 leading sportsmen and women, including world and Olympic champions, had tested positive for steroids and other banned substances since systematic checks began in 1988.

Kristin Otto, who won six swimming gold medals for East Germany at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, tested positive for the male hormone testosterone the following year, the Berliner Zeitung said yesterday.