Chinese social media websites have been busy with an outpouring of anger at the doping allegation against swimmer Ye Shiwen.
Host Aaron Schachter talks with Yuwen Wu, of the BBC’s Chinese service.
“A lot of Netizens were saying, ‘If she’s a cheat, then she will be found out, so let’s wait until the results come out before jumping to conclusions,’” Wu says.
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Aaron Schachter: As we mentioned earlier, Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen got her second got her second gold medal today. Her first was controversial. The sixteen year-old Ye broke the world record in the four hundred meter individual medley. She also shaved five seconds off her previous best personal time. That prompted one top American coach to suggest Ye might have doped to acheive such an improvement, but International Olympic Community officials say her performance should be applauded. Ye was tested after her final, but the results have not been announced. The BBC’s Yuwen Wu has been monitoring the reaction in China via social and official media. She says Ye has strong support back home.
Yuwen Wu: Well, she has been praised at the official media. For example, People’s Daily said, “Who would have thought the sixteen year-old Ye Shiwen could have flared with such immense power?” China Daily, another newspaper, said, “Her future does indeed appear bright.” But Chinese, you know, social media is bursting with a lot of anger directed at the Western media or Western journalists for even raising the possibility of using performance-enhancing drugs.
Schachter: I can imagine that people in China are quite frustrated by the criticism, the insinuation of drug use, but I think the problem is not just that she won with such a great time, but that her time this time around is so much better than her last best time. Five seconds, that’s a big gap in swimming.
Wu: Yes, the swimming delegation, the head of the Chinese swimming delegation was trying to answer these questions as well. I mean he was cited as saying, “Because Ye Shiwen is only sixteen, she still growing, and during the competition she was all the way behind and she was trying to catch up and somehow that momentum carried her through and gave her this sudden spurt of, you know, speed to give her that gold medal performance.” So basically the Chinese media were trying to tell the world that it’s through hard work and through training that Ye Shiwen got to the medal fairly.
Schachter: Is there anyone in China who suggest that it might be true? I mean this isn’t the first time that it’s happened. There was quite a scandal at the 1994 Asian Games as well.
Wu: It’s true eleven swimmer were caught actually doping, but China would say, “That’s all in the past. We cleaned up our act. The doping control is very strict both inside China and internationally.” And a lot of, you know, Netizens were saying, “If she is a cheat, then she will be found out, so let’s wait until the results come out before jumping to conclusions.”
Schachter: There is quite a culture of sport there, is there not? And training is quite intensive.
Wu: It is. That’s why I think Chinese people feel that, you know, the West doesn’t understand how hard these youngsters train. That would lead to another criticism, which is we are supposed to have Olympic Games when amateurs take part. I mean you have the basketball players who are totally professional players . . .
Wu: . . . and tennis players, but, you know, on the whole, the majority of the athletes who take part in Olympic Games are amateurs. They are students, they have to pass their A-levels and whatever, but the Chinese divers, the Chinese swimmers, it’s their full time job. Everybody knows that. They have to go through a very rigid training routine and it requires a lot of dedication, both on their own part and on the part of their parents, to train for an Olympic medal. So that kind of culture might not be easily understood by other people in the west. They just cannot comprehend what maybe this young lady has achieved.
Schachter: Yuwen Wu is with the BBC’s Chinese service. Thank you for your time.
Schachter: Cheers. Bye.
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