Tevez China

Doping, diplomacy and deadbeat players

Fresh off making their 2017 China Sources list, this is my debut China Sports column for SupChina, which you can read in full here. Below is a summary of what went on this week. 

First up, doping…

China says it’s been ramping up its anti-doping efforts over the past few months in the run-up to the Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, which kick off on February 9. But of the 17,000+ tests that the China Anti-Doping Agency (CHINADA) carried out last year, the agency uncovered 77 doping violations from among 132 positive tests — both figures way up from 2016. Some punishments from the past month:

  • Speed skater Li Yanzhe, steroids, four year ban
  • Marathoner Wang Jiali, EPO, eight year ban
  • Speed skater Shi Xiaoxuan, clenbuterol, two year ban.

But, remarkably, Shi was technically punished not for the doping offense — which the national speedskating team claimed arose when Shi accidentally ate contaminated food — but for “dining out without permission.” However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg: 55 Chinese athletes escaped punishment last year for testing positive for clenbuterol, using the “contaminated food” defense.

But given that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has been specifically emphasizing the risk of contaminated food in China since as far back as 2011, how on earth is this still being used as a defense? Head over to SupChina to find….

Is China helping to unite North and South Korea?

The JoongAng Daily reports that ministers from both sides of the Korean divide met in Kunming in southern China in mid-December on the sidelines of an international football tournament, while North Korea’s IOC member told reporters in Beijing last weekend that the North was “likely to participate” at PyeongChang. All of this can be chalked up as a big win for China. Seoul spends much of its diplomatic energies trying to keep both Beijing and Washington happy, but with an invitation to the Olympics bringing North Korea in from the cold — at least for a while — there’s no doubt that the feel-good factor temporarily relieves the international pressure on Pyongyang that the US has been so keen to create. Whether this has any effect on the ongoing nuclear situation remains to be seen, but China’s engagement tactic has clearly trumped Washington’s isolation strategy.

Moreover, despite the fact that two figure skaters are the only athletes from the North who have qualified for the Olympics, it turns out that ice hockey could be the key in an eventual reunification of the Korean Peninsula. Click here to find out more…

Tevez exit headlines CSL ins & outs…

It’s moving time in the Chinese Super League (CSL), with Shanghai Shenhua prematurely ending the Carlos Tevez experiment — to no one’s surprise. In fact, the only surprise is the fact that the 33-year-old, who looked unfit and disinterested while scoring just four goals last season, now apparently thinks he has a chance of lining up alongside the likes of Lionel Messi for Argentina at this year’s World Cup.

Paulinho, Roger Martinez and Cedric Bakambu are all discussed in the full article at SupChina, while there are also links to stories about Southampton FC’s Chinese owner Gao Jisheng, the NBA‘s Dallas Mavericks new Chinese name and why Hong Kong sports fans are in for a treat.

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