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« Mao Zedong and the PRC's Olympic Gold Anxiety | Main | Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Dao »

August 08, 2012


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This is an incredibly naive post. But you are correct that defaming a 16 year, old girl after she had won the Olympic medal and sullying her accomplishments, accusing her of cheating without a chred of evidence is indeed "going too far". But you are also forgetting that is is common. Accusations like this fly at the Oluympics all the time at the Chinese. All or almost all without a shred of evidence. While the US remains the greatest Olympic cheats in history (or in Olympic style sports) it must resort to these accusations when it losses to save its own ego and to divert attention away from its own PED problems. Your single example of where the Chinese have claimed a "conspiracy" against the Chinese does not in fact show any such thing. The article did not claim that there was or is a conspiracy against China but did say that so far in this Olympic games, the rules or the judgments from ruling bodies have been used in a biased way against the Chinese and that the Chinese ought to do everything within them to protest and have them made more fair whereas in the past the Chinese usually politely accepted whatever decision it was handed out of sportsmenship.

The Chinese people are well within their rights to be angry at how Ye was treated. They will "get over shit" when the US can can get over their petty sour grapes. Your example of the 1972 basketball game shows that even after many years, the US side, ironically, like many countries obessed with sports, are hard spressed to forget and move on.
Your claim that the Chinese gov is against all western influence is wrong in my experience. They fully accept that there are many western ideas and values that are valuable for China. So it seems to be a strawman to point out a "contradiction" in accepting athletic competition rather than multi party "democracy" of the west.

"All or almost all without a shred of evidence"

. . . except for, you know, those people who were kicked out for carrying growth hormone, the coaches and doctors who said it was a wide-spread practice in the team as late as 1998 and they were ordered to do it, things that were either catastrophic cock-ups or ridiculous lies like the whole He Kexin affair etc. etc. etc.

None of which is to say that drug taking isn't widespread in sport. Nothing demonstrated this so well as the 1988 Seoul Olympics Men's 100 Metres race. Most people know that Ben Johnson was stripped of the gold he won in that race after he tested positive for steroids, but people forget that it later came out that all the top three finishers (not just Johnson but Lewis and Christie) had tested positive for banned substances. Don't forget just what it was that brought down Ben Johnson - it was his incredibly fast finish, a finish which still has not been matched by any competitive sprinter. It's not for nothing that the first assumption people have when they see an incredibly fast finish, such as Ye Shiwen's was, is that drugs were involved. A past history of wide-spread doping in the Chinese swimming team which was denied at the time does nothing to dull these doubts.

As for China being targetted by the governing bodies and judges, pull the other leg. Eight badminton players in total were disqualified for not playing hard enough, of whom only two were Chinese, four of them were Koreans. The Chinese women cyclists were relegated to silver behind the Ukraineans, but the British team were relegated out of the medals in the same contest for exactly the same thing. The discussion over the gymnastics is ridiculous - gymnastics is a very subjective sport and it is not surprising that the Brazilians won even if, in the view of some but hardly all observers, the Chinese performed better. In none of these instances were Chinese held to standards that others were not.

@Sam - I wouldn't say the Chinese are entirely to blame for the way in which 'Westernisation' is used so regularly (and wrongly) to refer to things which are actually just examples of modernisation. Self-congratulatory rhetoric from columnists where things which are not intrinsically 'western' are lauded as such also should take a share of the blame.

As for the government being selective in its 'westernisation', this is not so objectionable as the way in which anything they do not like attracts the label 'western', whereas the things they do like are never identified as 'western'. This is so even if they come from the west and are arguably as intrinsically 'western' as catholicism (such as communism).

Also it is worth pointing out that a lot of the non-Confucian aspects of Chinese society and culture are still most definitely Chinese. They either have their roots before Confucius, or from people either opposed to him or merely not influenced by him. This is the danger in labelling every single aspect of East Asian culture(s) 'Confucian'. Non-Confucian =/= foreign.

". . . except for, you know, those people who were kicked out for carrying growth hormone, the coaches and doctors who said it was a wide-spread practice in the team as late as 1998 and they were ordered to do it, things that were either catastrophic cock-ups or ridiculous lies like the whole He Kexin affair etc. etc. etc."

How many Chinese have been caught at the Olympics so far for doping? How many Americans? Do some cursory research.

If you go by innuendo and biased reports instead of actual Olympic positive drug tests, you simply beg the question. It's like the fool who checks the veracity of one newspaper by another copy of the same paper.

"Don't forget just what it was that brought down Ben Johnson - it was his incredibly fast finish, a finish which still has not been matched by any competitive sprinter."

What bullshit. It has been matched and and surpassed. You really don't have a fuckin clue. Johnson's record has been broken many times since. Bolt's time is substantially faster than anyone in history.

Of course all athletes or almost all athletes who compete on that level may be on drugs but the anti-doping technology hasn't caught up yet to catch them. But you are missing the two major points. One is that the burden of proof is on the accuser. When it is not met or when it is even subverted by stronger evidence, the accuser is shown to have made defamatory claims. Might someday the Chinese athletes be found guilty of doping like Lewis and many other US athletes were at the 88 Olympics? Might someday all US athletes be found guilty? Sure, but is today that day? Do I have a right to accuse US medal winners on national press of being on drugs now? Obviously, only a morally deficient person would not see that as wrong. Two is that this kind of accusation falls on the Chinese far more often than it falls on other athletes from white western countries who have had similar remarkable performances or even more remarkable ones such as Phelps or Rebecca Addington who's last 50 meters in one race was even faster than Ye's and who did it in a swim twice as long.

This is not just sour grapes. I really think this is some deep psychological inadequacy complex in many whites who believe that whites ought to have superiority over Asians in at least athletics and when Asians dominate there, this injures their ego and causes feelings of insecurity.


or ridiculous lies like the whole He Kexin affair

Whose were the ridiculous lies? The IOC did a full formal investigation on the matter and determined that He Kexin was 16 rather than 14. Are you suggesting that the IOC were lying or incompetent when they had delivered that verdict? If that is the case, why even bother competing? For one thing, that strikes me as rather a mirror image of the anti-China conspiracy-mongering in the Global Times and 4M, but more to the point, besmirching the reputations of these young women after the fact doesn't strike me as particularly sportsmanlike, gentlemanly or honourable, to be perfectly honest - either in the Confucian or in the classical Western sense of the word.

And Sam, I agree with you that the Chinese attitudes toward the Olympics are a far cry from 'Confucian'. Always have, actually - I was in Beijing in 2006-7 when they were tearing out all the old neighbourhoods to make way for Olympic-related facilities and accommodations (Confucius, Mencius and Zengzi would all have been quite appalled). But there are a couple of points which again strike me as rather ironic.

The first is that, when you use the language of 'get over it and move on' with regard to (for example) Ye Shiwen, that hardly strikes me as the 'humane' attitude to take - rather, it borrows the authoritarian logic of the PRC that the merit and virtue of the athletes are of secondary importance to the benefit reaped by the society as a whole (in, for example, a medal count). I think that rather goes against the point you try to make at the end. Unless the point you are trying to make is that the PRC's logic is selective, in which case, well played. :D

The second is that, for all you enjoy using Confucian argumentation and logic, you seem to be doing your best to make sure that Confucian considerations are excluded from public discourse in general. As a Christian, I hear this all the time: I don't mind that you are a Christian, but keep your religion to your own damn self. But Christianity is a social and political religion, just as Confucianism is a social and political philosophy. The reason I support progressive and left-leaning politics in the US (and oppose in China the sort of 'liberalism' which supports the broadening of the 'reforms' which cause ever-increasing inequality and vagrancy) is because Jesus preached that good treatment of the poor, the orphaned and the wayfarer are paramount. Does it do my own religion any credit if I 'keep that to my own damn self'? Does it do the society any good?

Likewise, when you seem to support individuals being good Confucians, but balk when certain thinkers suggest that Confucianism might have anything relevant to say for modern societies or countries, that line of thought seems to me to be a bit alien to Confucian logic as a whole, given that Confucius and Mencius were first and foremost concerned with creating a humane social order (and saw the social order as intimately connected with individual life).

I am more sympathetic to the argument that China as it stands is not particularly welcoming to the Confucian ideal (though they pretend to be), and perhaps Confucianism will end up having to be 'Benedictine' in practice (small intentional enclaves of people dedicated to living out the Confucian model, with limited contact with state and market), rather than 'Tocquevillean' (with the public mass line and civil society taking the lead in promoting Confucian ideals). But that is not to say that a Confucian society is either impossible or undesirable.

When team members and handlers admit to cheating after the fact, that is more than mere innuendo. To be sure, past cheating among Chinese swimmers in no way means that current Chinese swimmers cheat. And the Chinese girl in no way looks like the behemoth women Chinese swimmers of the 80's. So her performance can invite some questions (just as any out-of-the-blue performance can invite some questions) but it doesn't detract from her worthiness as a gold medallist. If someone wants to question Phelps, they are of course welcome to do so, but the time for it was likely 2 Olympics ago.

It's no surprise that the ccp is selective about when they get their back up about "western" values, and when they don't. I don't think they really mind anything "western" unless it involves personal and political rights.

This shows how incredibly little skc knows about sports and drug testing like he knows little about other matters as well. There are many kinds of PEDs, not just anabolic steroids. Many PEDs do not make athletes more muscular and manly looking. So you cannot tell just by looking at someone if they are on PEDs. The only way you can tell is if you test them. Ye has passed three Olympic drug tests and has passed every one. These tests are the top of the line for PEDs. So mere innuendo is all the accusers have. skc can't seem to get that through his thick skull. Phelps only occasionally was and does meet with suspicion but Ye's performance was characterized by negative western press framing the baseless accusations as if they were supported by fact. Bottom line is that Ye has passed three Olympic drug tests. What remains is suggestion and innuendo.

And another piece of absolute bullshit is FOARP's ignorant statement that what brought Ben Johnson "down" was his suspicious and "incredibly fast finish". No, what brought Johnson "down" was that he failed his post victory drug tests(required of all medal winners), tests in which Ye has passed.

He Keixin and Ye are just two examples among many which shows the power of propaganda. Even when these athletes are cleared after rigorous tests and investigations, their accusers still hold fast to their original allegations. They have been so thoroughly brainwashed that no amount of counter evidence will ever sway them. It takes the slightest of suggestions to make them believe something without evidence and the greatest counter proofs will never change their views. That is the fierce power of propaganda if there ever was a demonstration of it.

Let's refrain from assertions of "brainwashing." In the He Kexin case, subsequent investigations found that one of the PRC gymnasts on the 2000 squad, Dong Fangxiao, had lied about her age - or we might better say her coaches and handlers lied about her age:

"The FIG has canceled Chinese gymnast Dong Fangxiao's results from the 1999 Worlds and 2000 Olympics because she was age ineligible, the federation announced Friday.

"Dong was a member of China's bronze medal-winning team at both competitions, but the FIG has determined after a 16-month investigation that her age has been falsified by three years."

The He case essentially relied upon statements from the PRC government and sporting authorities, who had earlier lied about Dong's age. Raising questions about He is not unreasonable under the circumstances.

Man, if M could read properly and not selectively, we might get somewhere. Chinese swimmers in the 80's were taking anabolic steroids, looked like behemoths, and passed their tests at the time. But they were lab experiments, as we now know by their own admissions. That part is not innuendo. And yes, newer drugs don't necessarily build muscle, so you can be juiced without the same outward appearance. Which was my point: there is no obvious reason to suspect her compared to the 80's versions of juiced athletes. And there is no official reason to do so either. I'm actually in agreement with M, but the dude is just too argumentative to notice. And I guess he's an expert in performance-enhancers...he sounds like he could use some himself.

It never ceases to amaze me when ccp apologists accuse others of propaganda. But sounds like M is one amazing dude least In his own mind.

So as far as I'm concerned, the Chinese swimmer in question is officially clean, and that is all that matters. Is she actually clean? We'll find out maybe in 20 or 30 years. The same could be said for many others. But while prior bad acts may be inadmissible in a court of law, prior bad acts do get considered in the court of public opinion. C'est la vie. Best to just deal.

Here's the thing, Sam. You are relying on results from one official IOC/FIG investigation and not the other. The sole criterion on which you base the revocation of Dong Fangxiao's medal is not satisfied in He Kexin's case. Unless you were actually on the IOC/FIG team investigating He Kexin's background and are privy to some information that the rest of us casual observers are not (unlikely), then there is no reason to raise the same questions about He that were raised for Dong. No?

@MFC - You appear unable to read. I said that the He Kexin affair was either a cock-up or a lie. Not only Xinhua but the Chinese sports bureau and the head of the Chinese sports authority had all stated that she was 13 in 2007, statements that weren't questioned at the time they were made. Is it possible that they were all wrong? Yes - it's possible, but if so, it was an amazing cock-up.

@Melektaus - you've got men on Johnson's time - it was 9.79, a record that was not surpassed until 2008. But you're pretty much wrong about everything else.

Firstly we're talking about a history of doping in the swimming team - we're talking people being caught with growth hormone at the airport and pretty much the entire team getting banned. That's quite a record, and one which makes suspicion likely when such an incredibly fast race and improvement over previous personal bests are seen.

Secondly, yes, it was Johnson's time that brought him down, as it triggered the particularly stringent drug testing that detected his drug use, and the time would not have been possible had he not been using drugs to the level that made detection possible. In the case of Lewis and Christie, they successfully hid their drug use, but they ran slower as a result.

Thirdly, there are actually several athletes who, although it was never proved that they were doping, doubts continue to be voiced - this is not something specific to the Chinese team. Florence Griffith-Joyner's records are generally regarded as having been extremely dubious, given the incredibly fast times she suddenly became capable of and other factors. Flo-Jo, though, was not disqualified even after having been singled out for rigorous drug testing just as Johnson had been, but is it wrong to say that doubts hang over Flo-Jo's records? Absolutely not, there's still too much that appears dubious and we now know that it was possible to beat the drug tests used then.

As for your final accusation that "many whites" (including, by implication, all the white and other-coloured-folk who raised doubts about Ye's swim) are essentially racists, this appears to have absolutely no proof other than your own ever-so-obvious inferiority complex. No doubt you'll now start cutting into some nonsense about 'collective defamation', without the slightest hint of irony.

Thing is though, my own personal opinion is she's not much more likely to be taking drugs than other Olympic swimmers at her level.

This is the deficient, idiotic logic of skc.

Premise: Some Chinese swimmers in the 90s had used anabolic steroids

Conclusion: Ye Shiwen is using PEDs.

What more needs to be said about him?

FOARP is caught bullshitting AGAIN. Ben Johnson was tested as is standard for all medal winners and was caught. He was not tested because of his 9.79 time which was not a startling time for him because one year earlier he had ran the world record time of 9.83. He was the number one ranked sprinter in the world at the time.
He is still not able to comprehend the possibility that almost all olympic athletes are doping (as the history shows with all the scandals around athletes who had "passed" doping tests and was later found guilty and admmited they had been using at the time of the Olympics). This hsows that the Chinese athletes even if they are guilty does not deserve to be singled out like they have. That's the whole point. Cheating is where you obtain an unfair advatange. But if everyone is cheating, there is no advantage and no one deserves to be singled out for blame.

Sam's and skc's and FOARP's fallacies are all of a kind. It's sad that basic critical thinking skills are sometimes never taught in US or other western schools.

Because many of the most prominent US athletes of all time had been implicated in drug scandals of some form or another at one time or another (the greatest US track and field, weightlifting and swimming athletes in fact such as Carl Lewis, Randy Barnes, Tim Montgomery, Maurice Greene, Justin Gatlin, Marion Jones, etc etc etc) does that make it the case that we are justified in blaming today's US athletes of doping without any evidence? In effect that is exactkly what they are saying in regards to China's case.

Because one Chinese athlete had been found to be underage, He Keixin must be guilty as well. Allegations of her must be sound from that case. Because some Chinese swimmers had been suspected of cheating, allegations that Ye Shiwen is doping must be justied as well.

This is the level critical thinking skills has degraded into when propaganda blinds people.

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