Date July 28, 2012
John Garnaut, Beijing
Doping 'only 50 per cent effective'
The man who was China's head Olympic doctor until 1992 says he tried doping, but training was best in the end.
CHINA'S former top Olympic team doctor says the Americans and Soviets "fooled" China into using performance-enhancing drugs, resulting in humiliating scandals and limited success.
Chen Zhanghao, who is retired but remains a doyen among China's top sporting celebrities, has broken a three-decade public silence to detail how he personally experimented with banned steroids, blood doping and hormones on scores of elite athletes.
Dr Chen was the lead doctor for the Chinese Olympic teams at Los Angeles (1984), Seoul (1988) and Barcelona (1992).
He retains such high standing that he said China's two most celebrated sports stars, hurdler Liu Xiang and basketballer Yao Ming, had come to see him at crucial points in their careers, albeit long after he says he lost interest in performance-enhancing drugs.
''We tried [hormones] first but found they were not effective, then we gave up,'' Dr Chen told The Saturday Age.''We added haemoglobin when we found it was low [in tested athletes] and also androgens,'' he said, referring to ''blood doping'' and steroids.
Dr Chen said he adopted a principled approach to the administration of all three banned substances.
"The first principle was 'voluntary', the second 'no harm' and the third 'effective'," he said.
The revelations by Dr Chen were made in response to allegations by a former subordinate that he was personally responsible for China's "rampant" and systemic abuse of banned drugs from the late 1970s into the early 1990s, with support from superiors in China's sports administration.