China’s 99%

The 99% claim has popped up twice in recent days in the context of Chinese sports, and both times there are less than convincing arguments.

Firstly, a Shanghai Shenhua club lawyer told Sina in reference to Didier Drogba’s contested move to Galatasaray in Turkey:

“We now have evidence which we believe will give Shenhua a 99% chance of winning a lawsuit at FIFA.”

Unnamed legal sources tend to have a habit of exaggeration because they are anonymous –> untraceable –> unaccountable. But I’m pretty sure – 99% sure in fact – that Drogba’s own legal team would have made sure there is a water tight case for breach of contract by Shenhua (presumably for unpaid wages) before he moved to another club.

Those more knowledgeable than I, such as Cameron Wilson of Wild East Football, agree:

“Shenhua’s claim that Drogba is still their player is nothing short of absolutely absurd. Is Shenhua owner Zhu Jun trying to suggest that a world famous player of Drogba’s standing and experience would sign a contract with his new club, Galatasaray, without first seeking expert advice to confirm his contract with Shenhua was null and void? Shenhua’s protestations are hot air, nothing more, and Zhu Jun’s conduct is damaging the image of Chinese football overseas.”

It’s funny how this evidence – so strong it’s almost-but-not-quite-certain to make FIFA rule in Shenhua’s favour – has a) not been produced publicly or b) not been mentioned until this week, given that Drogba said his farewells to Chinese football more than three weeks ago. Doesn’t sound quite like 99% to me.

The second 99% claim came in this quote from World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Director General David Howman, who told Reuters recently:

“99% of the raw materials [for illegal performance-enhancing drugs] that are used through the internet to make up in your kitchen or your backyard laboratory are emanating from China.”

Howman is known for throwing out bold claims, such as the one that more than 25% of world sport is controlled by the criminal underworld, but a man in a position such as his knows better than to spout nonsense, so we have to at least assume he believes this to be the case. In addition, Howman’s comments were later backed up by WADA President John Fahey.

China, though, is having none of it. Jiang Zhixue, the head of anti-doping at the Chinese sports ministry, or CHINADA:

“We are shocked at Mr. Howman’s comment. We are wondering where this 99% came from and what is his evidence. We have asked for a more detailed explanation from WADA.”

That seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable request. How on earth could you know for certain that of all the home labs making PEDs in the world, 99% are in China? I’m struggling to think of a more unregulated (and, therefore, more unknown) category than this.

Then again, CHINADA (which makes me think of Ottawa-Beijing diplomatic ties rather than an anti-doping agency) has not updated its English homepage since 2010 [2016 UPDATE: CHINADA’s English homepage now relocated to here], so perhaps it should focus more on improving its international communication channels.

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