Monday, July 30, 2012

Ye Shiwen (Update #2)

Update #1: You knew this was coming: 'I suspect Phelps': Chinese official hits back over Ye Shiwen speculation

Update #2: An interesting (and relevant) bit of information, swimming has not adopted the biological passport, but they approved a pilot project last year.

Update #3: The IOC has stated that 1,706 doping controls (1,344 urine and 362 blood) have been conducted to date. Only two positive results, both were pre-competition. No information on what use has been made of the biological passport yet.


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Chinese Olympian Ye Shiwen is generating headlines galore. Many of them speculate about whether or not doping has anything to do with her success in the pool. Is she doping? I don't know. Do her exploits give reason for skepticism? Yes, that's where we are in sports. There's no denying that sports have given the public more than enough reasons to doubt "exceptional" feats of athleticism.

However, let's ask some questions:

Has Ye Shiwen ever locked herself in a panic room when doping control officers came to collect an out of competition sample (e.g. Serena Williams)?

Has Shiwen gone more than two years without an out-of-competition doping test (e.g., Serena Williams)?

Has Shiwen been treated by Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral, who was banned for life by the USADA for anti-doping violations (e.g., Sara Errani)?

Has Shiwen complained about doping controls on multiple occasions (e.g., Andy Murray & Rafael Nadal)

Has Shiwen ever tested positive for a banned substance and then lied to officials to escape punishment (e.g., Andre Agassi)?

Haw Shiwen claimed that switching to a gluten-free diet is behind her success (e.g., Novak Djokovic)?

As far as I know, the answers to these questions are "No." So, maybe athletes in other sports need to be put under some heavy scrutiny, and not just Shiwen.

38 comments:

  1. I think xenophobia probably plays a role in the level of scrutiny she is receiving compared to other athletes shattering records with uncanny ease in other sports. That, and the scandal with the underage gymnast from China in the last Olympics set the stage for this.

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    1. It's always interesting how the Olympics brings out the worst in some people in terms of jingoism, nationalism, xenophobia, etc.

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    2. This goes for all sports. I found it quite funny how british cycling fans were happy to label Vinokurov a doper and a cheat but ignored that the British team included David Millar (convicted doper) as well as support staff who were admitted or convicted dopers.

      No one in the english language press ever raises any questions over Phelps, Franklin, Torres (in swimming) or Wiggins and Cavendish in cycling but they are more than happy to flag up Vinokurov, or Ye.

      If Ye and Vinokurov are subject to such scrutiny and questioning then why not Phelps, Lochte, Franklin, Nadal, Murray Wiggins or Cavendish?

      I would go further than you Sen. If Ye were British or American the press would not raise a single question about her performance and instead would be hailing it as a wonder of British/American ability/skill/talent. The questioning of Ye and not questioning Phelps etc is nothing more than racism on the part of the media.

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  2. Chinese swimming does have a serious institutionalised doping history however. That's why people are suspicious. Similar to East Germany in the 70's and 80's. That, and China doesn't have a strong history of great swimmers. At all. But suddenly they have Superteen, swimming faster than her male equivalent.

    Swimmers from the USA or Australia could just as easily be dopers. But since they have had a strong swimming culture for decades, it doesn't stick out so much. Nor are their women swimming amazing world records with freestyle legs faster than the men. As Ye Shiwan is. And Michelle Smith from Ireland did in the 90's. Hence there are strong suspicions. And rightly so.

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    1. I agree. My point is that the reaction to her race time has been quick and ferocious. Compare that to some tennis players have arguably committed more suspicious acts without any such scrutiny. Some of these players are at the Olympics, and are still not facing any questions from the press.

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    2. Gosh, let's not jump the facts, as the world media is ever so keen to do for the sake of sensation: the Superteen swam faster than her male equivalent only for the last short lap of a long race - not overall; her male equivalent had, at the same stage, an enormous advantage (about one-and-a-half body-length) over his closest opponent - advantage that he has achieved in the previous stages by exerting and tiring himself out, to the out-most; etc., etc., etc. There's no use in jumping the wagon that goes in the direction opposite to the desired one. P.S. Have you at all seen both races yourself?

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    3. Ross Tucker from Science of Sport provides a full analysis of the women's race: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/jul/31/london-2012-ye-shiwen-doping?newsfeed=true

      Intriguing read. He makes a number of observations on Shiwen's performance, including the question "Under what circumstances does a female have the capacity to finish a race as fast as a male?"

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    4. Melchekzanikhar,
      To swim that fast she would have needed to save something for the last lap. That would mean she broke the world record without putting her full effort in the first three legs of the race, then having a lot of energy for the last leg. You wouldn't go slowly enough to have that strong of a finish, as that is not the best way to swim that race, so the fact that she not only swam that lap faster than Lochte to close AND she broke the world record is less likely than a professional tennis player adding 10-15 mph to his serve overnight just by changing his grip.

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    5. P.S. Have you at all seen both races yourself?

      Me? I have actually. Lochte was swimming for Gold at the Olympics - even with a bit of a lead he would not slack off any more than a very small overall amount, and then in the last maybe 10 metres. Even if she got within 2 seconds of him it would've been miraculous. But for me to suggest Lochte could've gone two second faster if there had been a very close opponent is fantasy. Not to mention that Ye Shiwan won by a fair amount herself.

      THASP makes a good point, she does this at the end of the race too.

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    6. THASP & Mystery:
      Lochte's full time: 4:05,18; Shiwan's 4:28,43. Over 23 seconds difference. Now, how's that for the girl being 'faster' than the boy?
      Anyhow, be as it may: I was just arguing that one should not trust the general (i.e. ill-informed, sensation-hungry and, above all, race-, nation-, culture-, politics- etc. -wise biased) media.
      I won't argue any further, since my point was not whether the poor thing dopes or not. My point was that we, the caring ones, at least, should not be all too eager to buy into such stories at first glance just because they fit our most general suspicions - while, at the same time, there are lasting happenings of epic proportions taking place before our very eyes. For, if we do, we just help uphold the illusion that there are supposed heroes and obvious villains, as well as vigilant forces that watch over their shenanigans. (For further clarification concerning my stance on the matter, see also, if you care, my other comments on this thread.)

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    7. Melch, I will only add that my huge suspicions of Ye Shiwan (which formed, by the way, before the media pickup up on it) would not be there in the first place without her suspicious performances, just like my suspicions of Spanish footballers and tennis players (and cyclists etc) are not *based* on their nationality.

      But if a country has lax testing (Spain, China), it automatically makes athletes more vulnerable to PED use.

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    8. Excellent Guardian article too posted by Sen above well worth the read.

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  3. Makes one think of DJoker's unquestioned annus (the spell-check says it should be 'anus') mirabilis (should be 'desirabilia', says the same authority), does it not. Let alone of all the, well then, desirable arseholes of the glorious Spanish bimbo-gladiator. Both of whom the Locker Room Queen could carry in her teeth, no doubt. Fun, people, sheer fun - no end.

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    1. Hmmm...perhaps Ye Shiwen switched to a gluten-free diet, too? That would put all the doubts to rest.

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    2. Not only that, SnR, - she has just recently won, together with her team, the much-coveted Swimmers' Davis Cup, and that pumped an enormous amount of invincible confidence into her fragile frame! Aas Janko Tipsarevic said of his friend: Confidence is falling out of his pockets... Just imagine: countless ampoules of confidence tinkling all over the floor! Oh boy, oh boy...

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  4. I don't know why any of us is debating whether or not the Chinese swimmer is doped. This is a swimmer who was not even favoured to win, yet who trumped her own previous best by a margin that would suggest an 11-flat 100m track specialist could beat "Lightning" Bolt in an Olympic final, and in so doing she was able to turn out a faster finishing split than her fastest male counterpart on the planet! Oh yeah, and she is only 16 years old, and comes from a nation with a history of doping. I suggest we have just seen the equivalent of a teenage Flojo run a faster relay split than Bolt himself. Absolute bullshit. We are just offered proof that testing by itself doesn't catch cheats - even testing as rigorous as it appears to be at these Olympics. As the head of WADA has previously remarked, there will be "hundreds of dopers" at the Games. We have just seen one of them.

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  5. Melchekzanikhar and Richard,

    Soooo cynical.....yet soooo correct.

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  6. Is it right that spain has not got any medal yet? As of now.

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  7. Didn't WADA's John Fahey say not to bother showing up at the Olympics if you were a doping athlete? Did this one slip through the cracks or was John Fahey bluffing? I mean his threat worked to get Nadal to withdraw:) And look at the Spanish soccer team!

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  8. According to the IOC she's clean, because she passed a drug test. I guess that's case closed.

    http://msn.foxsports.com/olympics/swimming/story/ioc-defends-china-ye-shiwen-amid-doping-speculation-says-she-passed-drug-test-073112

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    1. Is this the same IOC that tested Marion Jones?

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    2. So, now passing a single test is evidence that an athlete isn't a doper...what a turnaround by the IOC.

      Seems like only a few days ago that "Arne Ljungqvist, chairman of the International Olympic Committee's medical commission and also a Wada vice president, admitted this week that the out-of-competition testing regime was still far from ideal."

      Oh wait, that was yesterday: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/jul/31/doping-london-2012-olympics-drugs?newsfeed=true

      Also, what did David Howman of the WADA say...oh yes, tests only pick-up "dopey dopers"

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  9. I don't get it. Was the comment from the Chinese "doctor" intended to make Shiwen look more guilty or less guilty? By implicating Phelps he's inadvertently also implicating Ye Shiwen. If one believes Phelps' results are suspicious how in the name of Panda bears can that same person not suspect Shiwen. If one wanted to try to claim that Shiwen's performance is legit then one would be wiser to claim he DOESN'T suspect Phelps.

    Don't get me wrong, I think one would be a fool not to be suspect of Phelps. It's just ludicrous to be suspect of one without being suspect of the other. It makes her look more guilty, not less.

    Imagine if Nadal had been asked after the AO final, "Rafa does the physicality of the match you just played suggest doping?" and he responded "yes, it clearly suggests Djokovic is doping and I'm not."

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  10. This IS the logic of the Nadal fans. You accuse Nadal of doping, and they retort "ya, what about Federer ?".

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  11. Here is a New Yorker piece where the writer is saying. "virtually all the men and all the women in every event shorter than four hundred metres are doped."

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/sportingscene/2012/07/how-many-olympic-runners-dope.html

    So, why should tennis be any different, or swimming?

    Food for thought...

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  12. That New Yorker article is very feeble. The interviewee Malcolm Gladwell (who's he?) states that he knows nothing about endurance events and doping, and then goes on to guess that no marathon runner would be doping, because he can't see how it would help. He knows nothing, hasn't done his homework, and gets interviewed in the New Yorker. Sad. --Mike

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    1. Yeah, I agree. Galdwell reveals pretty much complete and total ignorance of the subject. He appears to have no idea about the use of PEDs for recovery purposes to enable greater training loads.

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    2. Understood but how many "old school" publications are running such articles? The point is, to the author, there is no elephant in the room, because he made the declaration quoted earlier. Where is even a weak Tennis piece saying anything remotely similar?

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  13. I don't think anyone here is seriously arguing that Ye is not doping, or that China is not conducting a national doping program. The smart money would be that Ye and a large number of her compatriots are on the juice--as are many athletes from many countries.

    The accusations being made about her are probably true, but the reasons those accusations were made in the first place have much less to do with the evidence, than with seizing a golden opportunity to grind certain xenophobic and nationalistic axes.

    Looking at tennis blogs, I've seen that the same mindless cheerleaders who so readily swallow Nadal's "grip change" serve and Djokovic's "gluten free diet" and defend those players to the death suddenly become frickin' Sherlock Holmes when it comes to the case of Ye, proudly bragging that they instinctively know a doper when they see one and no doper, no matter how fiendishly clever, can get past their razor-sharp powers of observation, no sir!

    These are the same idiots who dismiss the entire 8-year history of Nadal's suspicious performances that this blog has painstakingly assembled, and say that all the doping accusations are just due to jealousy.

    Then, on the slender basis of one single race, these same people conclude that one unknown swimmer is not only the world's biggest doper, but go on to deduce the existence of a nefarious, full-blown doping program that encompasses all of Chinese athletics.

    As for the bullshit canard about "it's reasonable to suspect athletes from nations with a history of doping," what many of these people really mean is that they will ignore any evidence of such a program in the case of their friends, and make up evidence where none is available in the case of their foes.

    Many of the same people who are pontificating at length on the history of Chinese PED use (and how many of those people can actually name a single instance of a doping infraction by a Chinese athlete, or a doping scandal involving Chinese athletics) are the same people who will swear by the souls of their firstborn that Contador ate tainted meat, the Spanish football team won Euro 2012 clean, and that Nadal, Ferrer and the entire Spanish tennis clown show is totes legit.

    And if you mention Operacion Puerto, they just won't have any fucking clue what you're talking about.

    East Germany was a Soviet-controlled Eastern Bloc country so there was a lot of propaganda value for the West in publicizing their doping program, thereby underscoring the totalitarian repression of the Communist system and contrasting it with Western respect for human rights and individual freedom, blah blah blah.

    Spain is a Western European Christian democracy, hence they cannot possibly be conducting a systematic nationwide doping program the way those sneaky godless Commies do (even though all the evidence, much of it presented here on this blog, points to Spain running just such a program).

    Throw in American feelings of insecurity about their waning economic potency and some good old-fashioned racism about the "heathen Chinee", and you have the real driving force behind this uproar. It's simple as that.

    This scandal is not a good omen for those genuinely interested in fighting the spread of doping; it merely means that the only time doping will receive attention is when it can be used as a convenient political club to beat countries you don't like. When it involves your own country it will be ignored altogether.

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    1. Good comment. Two words come to mind in reference to your main point: Panic room.

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    2. I agree with this 100%. 15-year-old Katie Ledecky just crushed the rest of the field and nearly swam a new world record over 800 meters free, but I doubt that anyone will be pointing their finger at her because she's American.

      For what it's worth, I think doping is running rampant in swimming. The way these swimmers have been shattering past world records without the aid of swimsuits says it all.

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    3. Took a look at Ledecky's history. Didn't realize just how preposterous her victory is.

      The girl never even swam in a single major tournament before now. She shaved 5 seconds off her previous personal-best to qualify for the Olympic team. Then within only one month, shaved another 5 seconds off that to win Olympic gold. I don't know much about competitive swimming, but in a sport where the margin of victory is measured in tenths (sometimes hundredths) of seconds, that's ridiculous.

      Ye had at least had a record of accomplishment, was world champion last year. Six months ago, Ledecky was a nobody in the swimming world. Now she is an Olympic champion. No one finds this meteoric rise at all astonishing?

      The tone of all the English language articles is that it's "unfortunate" that Ledecky is having to face questions about doping because of the Ye scandal. Nothing about how absolutely ludicrous her results were.

      And where's John Leonard lecturing us about how we should always criticize "aberrations" in sport? Haven't heard from him about Ledecky. Oughtn't he be speaking up about now?

      Perhaps someday, people will start asking questions about all these phenoms who seem to suddenly spring up ex nihilo. Where do they really come from? Who's behind them? Where's the money coming from, and where's it going?

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  14. To problem with modern china is that they are a culturally and intellectually primitive collective of people who do not see cheating, copying, etc. as bad. It's only bad if you get caught, then it's an issue of saving face, not about the act of cheating. Stealing IP is a way of life, there's knockoffs and bootlegs everywhere. They even faked video shots of the fireworks of the opening games in Beijing. If you go to China and ask a person for directions, if they don't know the answer but feel that they "should," they'll just spout random directions to make it appear they know, in an effort of not losing face... That's the culture, the mindset.

    In the case of something like the 2008 olympics, like 1936 games in nazi Germany it was seen as a great source of propaganda for the regimes and national pride to host and to win gold for the country.
    If China were to not win enough gold, it would be seen as a failure and embarrassment to the the countries communist propaganda machine. There would also be a feeling that the country lost face, with the world seeing their athletes as inferior. If an individual player were to be caught cheating, them (and their families) would lose face. If the country doesn't win enough gold, then the country as a whole would lose face and national pride (which is a big thing there).

    Did this girl cheat? Absolutely! Does it really matter? It's a bit like the "if a tree falls in the forest" saying. If you can't prove it, it NEVER happened, Marion Jones can back that theory. The problem is that china is a rich and powerful nation and the very act of questioning it without any sort of proof is likely very insulting to them and cause a political backlash which isnt smart as they own trillion$ of US debt.

    like the questionably young gymnast girls in the last olympics, with the resources of an entire country you could rewrite history if so inclined,(which China does do BTW, at least within the country where they control the media 100% twisting historical events like the Nanjing Incident and the Great Leap Forward). Their main flaw is that their “experiments” are too young to be believable gold medal winners coming from nowhere and breaking records at will. A small underdeveloped 16 year old chinese girl does not swim 50m faster than a 6 ft 2 185 lb male adult athlete in this universe without “outside assistance”.
    If something seems obviously wrong, you do the tests, nod your head, and move along. Unless you have proof Further questioning isn't accepted in chinese culture.

    China's current olympic team is the 21st century east germany, only time will tell when this 16 year old experiment is in her 30’s and has got various genetic disorders and doping related illnesses.



    The gold medal was won in the lab, not the pool.

    LONDON 2012 May the best laboratory win!

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  15. Chinese doctor reveals state-sponsored doping



    http://sports.yahoo.com/news/chinese-doctor-reveals-state-sponsored-doping-033024064--oly.html

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  16. Just take a look at Allison Schmitt's face. I suspect that she is taking something illegal. It seems like every athlete has that jaw/chin type. Maybe SARMS, testosterone, HGH, etc?

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  17. Question about the Swimming pilot scheme - is there not an error in the press release, "The “Athlete’s Biological Passport” allows the establishment of a longitudinal study and haematological profile on each athlete, with the aim of detecting if blood manipulations are done in order to carry a higher percentage of oxygen (thus “masking” any intake of forbidden substances)." Surely - assuming my understanding is correct - the carrying of higher levels of Oxygen does not mask intake of forbidden substances. However it does obviously increase endurance levels and all that comes with it.

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    1. Hmmm...Grammar doesn't seem to be FINA's strong point. Here's WADA's definition which is more clear: "The fundamental principle of the Athlete Biological Passport is based on the monitoring of an athlete’s biological variables over time to facilitate indirect detection of doping on a longitudinal basis, rather than on the traditional direct detection of doping."

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