Furor over Peng Shuai’s #Metoo Accusation Challenges China
Source: The New York Times
China’s Olympic gold medallist Peng Shuai has sparked a social media backlash by accusing Olympic swimmer Ye Shiwen of using banned performance-enhancing drugs.
Peng was criticised by fellow Chinese athletes and fans on social media for claiming Ye’s medal haul in London in 2012 was part of a deliberate doping scheme.
The controversy comes amid a crackdown on doping, which is said to have contributed to the downfall of legendary Olympic swimmer Sun Yang, who admitted to using banned substances.
Ye and Sun are among hundreds of athletes from more than 30 nations interviewed in a 90-minute BBC Panorama programme to reveal drug use and corruption within their sports, to an audience of millions.
The pair won two golds at the 2012 London Olympics. Ye also set a new world record when she won the 200m individual medley, her third gold medal in London.
“During the competition, the Chinese swimmers appeared exhausted and their legs seemed dry, and it was clear they were not breathing as well,” said Mengyu Yu, the first Chinese woman to compete in four Olympic Games.
Swimming was a top priority for the Chinese Government at the time and the doping scheme, which saw a specially-organised ‘quanxi’ group of around 200 officials and ‘tigers’ – the elite of the security and intelligence services – use their influence to influence results.
Peng claims that at a pre-games training camp in China Ye was ‘rushed’ to Beijing and that the medical staff told her coach to ‘avoid over-training’ so she could win the gold, and that her coach then persuaded the team doctor to let her train the wrong way.
Peng, who has criticised Ye’s coach Li Yongchang in the past, and Li for what she says is the coach’s collusion with the medical staff, was accused of ‘trivialising the biggest issue’ in sport.
One Chinese Olympic swimming expert told me he is unconvinced by Peng’s claims.
“Peng doesn’t know about Ye Shiwen’s individual performance and her own performances and what type of training she’s put in, her record as a swimmer in her career,” he said.
“For her it’s been a life journey – winning the medal and a gold was her dream so I don’t think she’s an expert who can say something like that.”