Xi reiterates tough stand on drug cheats

 Chinese President Xi Jinping
Chinese President Xi Jinping

BEIJING • Chinese President Xi Jinping has declared that he "hates" doping, laying out a tough stance against cheating at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Doping has overshadowed the Games in recent years, with Russia's Olympic committee barred from last year's Pyeongchang Games because of performance-enhancing drugs.

China's sporting record in the past decade has also been tainted by doping, with some athletes stripped of Olympic medals.

But Mr Xi has put his foot down, insisting he "would prefer to have clean Chinese athletes than a gold medal, or any medal at all".

After meeting International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach in Beijing on Thursday, he said he personally objected to doping and reiterated that China had "a clear and very strong policy" on the use of drugs in sport.

According to Xinhua news agency, Chinese athletes who use performance-enhancing drugs will receive criminal punishments and jail terms as of this year.

In 2017, a Chinese doctor told German media that there had been a systematic doping programme in the country during the 1980s and 1990s across a range of sports.

Earlier this week, Bach visited the Beijing 2022 facilities, including the downhill skiing competition site, and said progress on venue construction was "very impressive".

He added: "For every venue we have visited here, we could see what the use for it would be after the Olympic Games so that the Chinese people can then really enjoy winter sports."

Beijing hosted the 2008 Olympics, and will be the first city to have staged both a Summer and Winter Games.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2019, with the headline 'Xi reiterates tough stand on drug cheats'. Print Edition | Subscribe