Wimbledon drug-test row: Olympic rules criticized for ‘cheating’

Written by Staff Writer

Editor’s Note — This article was originally published by BBC

Peng Shuai of China won the fourth round of the Wimbledon women’s doubles event against Yi Lin and Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain on Wednesday. She went on to lose the final to Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka.

China’s doubles specialist became the first player to be treated for doping at Wimbledon for more than a decade — and the International Olympic Committee is now being accused of “cheating” by Human Rights Watch.

During the match, an Indian guest ball boy “confessed” to Chinese state-run media that he was the one who reported the positive drug test to the Chinese Tennis Association, while the mother of Peng’s partner had told them her son had taken a banned substance.

The BBC did not go to those who came forward with the claims, but Human Rights Watch wrote an article calling on tennis officials to investigate.

“Wimbledon doubles champion Peng Shuai became the highest-profile tennis player in China to be found in violation of the anti-doping rules,” it said.

“Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be the first time the IOC has shown little interest in what happens on the court and more about what happens in the headlines.

“In March, tennis authorities ignored years of evidence that Doping Agency (DATAG) of Kazakhstan was operating a blood doping scheme. They also looked the other way when this website provided evidence of an Olympic steroid trial in 2007,” Human Rights Watch said.

In 2016, former Spanish tennis player Feliciano Lopez was given a two-year ban after testing positive for a banned substance he took at the Chinese Open.

Wimbledon doubles champions Yi Lin and Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain (L) celebrate victory over China’s Peng Shuai and Ting Keun of China (R)

That year, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) refused to cooperate with and access a report provided by an independent anti-doping auditor after he was found guilty of using testosterone.

Wimbledon echoed that resistance by the ITF when Human Rights Watch requested documents relating to the fact that Peng Shuai was named in a witness statement as having taken a banned substance before the match.

She insisted she was not the one who took the drug and did not commit the offense.

The IOC has denied trying to cover up the alleged doping case.

“This is not an issue that we have an interest in,” said Hany Abo Rida, IOC spokesman, in a BBC interview.

Wimbledon said: “The rules of tennis and WTA governing player conduct state that it is an offence for a player to knowingly accept payment or accept gifts for participation in a sanctioned event.

“The athlete in question is not in a position to know whether or not their opponent has doped.”

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