IAAF asks Chinese to check on Ma's Army

PARIS • The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has asked the Chinese Athletics Association to look into a letter claiming there had been a systematic doping programme under the infamous Ma Junren, who coached "Ma's Army" of runners.

Chinese web portal Sina on Wednesday published what it said was a letter signed in 1995 by 3,000m and 10,000m world record-holder Wang Junxia and nine other former athletes of Ma's, saying the coach had forcibly doped them.

Ma's glory days were capped when Wang won the women's 5,000m gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics to add to her 10,000m world crown. Other signatories included Zhang Linli, who briefly held the 3,000m world record, and 1993 1,500m world champion Liu Dong.

"It is absolutely true that Ma forced us to take large doses of illegal drugs," Sina cited the letter as saying. It did not specify which drugs were involved.

"We were sad when we revealed this to you, and seriously worried that might impair China's reputation as well, as it might devalue the gold medals we won," the letter said. "But we must disclose these criminal behaviours because we don't want the same things happening to the next generation."

The letter was addressed to Chinese reporter Zhao Yu, who published a 1997 book titled An Investigation Of Ma's Army. According to state television broadcaster CCTV, the doping allegations were not in the original edition of the book but included in last year's republished edition.

Ma stepped up his alleged doping regime after 1991, CCTV cited the latest edition saying, adding that some athletes complained of side-effects.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2016, with the headline 'IAAF asks Chinese to check on Ma's Army'. Print Edition | Subscribe