Chinese Athlete Gets Gold Medal Back After Doping Ban Overturned

Chinese hammer thrower Zhang Wenxiu has received back her gold medal that was taken away from her after she failed a pre-competition drug test.

Last September, Zhang won the women’s hammer throw at the Asian Games at Incheon, South Korea. The Chinese hammer thrower was later disqualified and stripped of the medal after a pre-competition test revealed traces of the prohibited substance Zeranol in her sample. In October, the three-time Asian Games champion filed an appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in October and urged that her positive case resulted from contaminated food.

Zeranol is approved for use as a growth promoter in livestock. During the time of her suspension, an OCA statement disclosed that the competitor has been disqualified from the competition as well as these Games and as such her accreditation canceled, and gold medal was withdrawn. Zeranol, a non-steroidal estrogen agonist, is approved for use as a growth promoter in livestock and increases cancer cell proliferation in already existing breast cancer.

At that time, the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) remarked that the cause of positive result of the athlete is unknown yet, they fully respect decision of the OCA. In a statement, the COC had remarked that the athlete may dope deliberately, but there also remain the possibilities that the positive reading was due to her consumption of contaminated meat.

Zhang set an Asian Games record with a throw of 77.33 meters to win the women’s hammer title in Incheon. The 29-year-old, bronze medalist at the Beijing Olympics and Asian Games champion in 2006 and 2010 was stripped of her medals. This development means that Zhang’s compatriot Wang Zheng and India’s Manju Bala who were upgraded to gold and silver respectively may now have to be satisfied with silver and bronze again.

On Wednesday, the Olympic Committee of Asia issued a statement saying that Zhang did not commit a doping violation based on further tests and will receive back her medal. The OCA statement reads following further testing performed by independent specialists, the Olympic Council of Asia was informed that such testing had established that the presence of Zeranol was, as Zhang asserted, the consequence of the consumption of contaminated food. It was also remarked that based on this new information and supported by WADA, the Olympic Council of Asia recognizes Zhang did not return an Adverse Analytical Finding for the presence of Zeranol, nor therefore commit an Anti-Doping Rule Violation during the 2014 Asian Games.

The 28-year-old became the first athlete from China to get caught doping in major sporting events since the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima when many Chinese swimmers failed anti-doping tests.

Figures from the Chinese Olympic Committee reveal that more than 10,000 drug tests were conducted on athletes from the country each year over the past decade and the positive rate is just 0.02 percent, which is one of the lowest in the world. A few months back, WADA President Craig Reedie spoke highly of efforts of China in the fight against doping in sport. Reedie’s predecessor John Fahey also hailed China as a role model in the anti-doping drive.

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