Connect with Us:  

Whither The EPO Case Of China's Li?

Dec 17, 2012  - Craig Lord

The question of China's missing EPO positive test result looms as large as Christmas, the questions simple: why has there been no official ban on a swimmer who tested positive in March and made headlines when Chinada, the national anti-doping agency, reported a positive test for a teenage national team member; what were the details of the case and what action has China taken; what action has FINA taken?

he case of Li Zhesi has yet to make it on to FINA's doping case file. The staff of the international federation are in transit today as they make their way home from a busy week at the world short-course championships but when we have an answer on Li we will place it on this file. 

The international federation must by now have pressed the Chinese Swimming Association and asked them to explain and file the details of the following case:

Six weeks before London 2012, the news was big in China and beyond, the line reaching international agencies and other media clear: Li Zhesi, world champion in a relay for China in 2009 at 14, a year after she raced at a home Olympic Games aged just 13, has tested positive for erythropoeitin (EPO), the blood-booster. 

The case was announced by the China Anti-Doping Agency (Chinada), which cited "an out-of-competition test carried out on March 31". No suspension details accompanied the news but Li, a member of the China team for the past four years, did not race beyond the moment that her test result was reported far and wide. She simply stopped being a part of the China team and did not make it to London 2012.

Shang Xiutang, vice president of China Swimming Association, said at the time: "We've received the report of her doping test. And we will help the China Anti-Doping Agency do further investigation. But Li for sure will not take part in the Olympic Games. Whether she can compete in the National Games next year will depend on the final result of the investigation." 

"The drug was found both in the A and B samples," Chinada announced. A two-year suspension would be the minimum requirement under the WADA Code. 

The story appeared too on this link at Xinhua - http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2012-06/10/c_131642593.htm - which appeared "temporarily unavailable" for a while but can now be accessed here. Sina, the agency, also reported the case.

Li led the China 4x100m freestyle at the Shanghai world championships in a 54.35, a time that would have left her second best Chinese in 2012 after the London Games.