China’s top sports governing body approved new anti-doping regulations following a swimmer’s doping incident.
The General Administration of Sport of China unveiled on Dec 10 an undated version of anti-doping regulations, to take effect on Jan 1, in accordance with the World Anti-Doping Code. Along with the new regulations, the sports administration also released new guidelines explaining the changes and specifying penalties.
One of the highlights is requiring authorities to investigate and punish officials, coaches and anti-doping executives who obstruct tests, interfere with evidence collection and delay processing, instead of punishing athletes alone.
The new regulations state that associations should make punishments flexible and appropriate, to avoid the old heavier-the-better approach.
A sports researcher said the new rules address more complicated doping issues, such as Olympic champion swimmer Sun Yang’s controversial doping case earlier this year.
“Sun’s case caused widespread debate internationally, not just because of his violation, but the way Chinese authorities dealt with it and postponed the announcement of the punishment,” said Tan Jianxiang, a sports sociology professor at South China Normal University. “It seems that the new regulations will help authorities better approach these kinds of cases.”
The China Anti-Doping Agency announced on Nov 24 that Sun, who won two gold medals at the 2012 London Olympics, tested positive for the stimulant trimetazidine at a doping test during the National Swimming Championships on May 17.
Sun was then suspended by the Chinese Swimming Association from competition for three months without the incident being reported, and came back to compete at the Incheon Asian Games in September, where he won three gold medals and one silver.
Sun’s short suspension and the doping agency’s late announcement sparked widespread debate.
Zhao Jian, deputy director of the China Anti-Doping Agency, later explained that Sun’s light punishment was because Sun used the substance for medical treatment, while the delay in announcing the result was due to the agency’s heavy workload from May to October, during which it handled about 9,900 tests for the Nanjing Youth Olympics and Asian Games.
China’s last national anti-doping code was issued in 1998 by the General Administration of Sport of China.