Chinese athletes pledge against doping

China's Olympic athletes and coaches must vow to reject performance enhancing substances and pass an exam on doping if they want to participate in the London Games, state press said Friday.

Athletes have began gathering at Beijing's national sports training centre where they must take an oath before the nation's flag and vow to remain clean at the London Olympics, the China Daily reported on its website.

"Athletes and coaches are qualified to join the national team when they have passed the exam, vowed to abide by anti-doping, and signed the commitment letter," Shen Chunde, a top track and field official, said.

Chinese athletes have remained relatively free from doping scandals since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but in the past suspicions were rife that officially-sanctioned drug cheating was rampant in the nation's Soviet-style training system.

During the 1990s, numerous athletes on China's national swimming, bicycling and weight-lifting teams frequently tested positive for banned substances at international events.

In recent years, however, the phenomenon has appeared to be isolated to individual cases, even as China topped the gold medal table at the Beijing Games.

In November last year, Olympic weightlifting champion Liao Hui was suspended for nearly three years for doping, while 2008 Olympic women's judo gold medallist Tong Wen was banned in 2010 for two years for testing positive for the banned substance clenbuterol.

In the run-up to London, many Chinese athletes are swearing off meat out of fears that domestic pork, beef and lamb could contain substances like clenbuterol which has been used to raise Chinese livestock, state media said earlier this year.

They are instead relying on protein powder and fish to meet their high protein needs, the Yangtze Evening News reported.

At least 196 competitors under China's National Aquatics Centre, which governs swimming, diving and other water sports, have been off meat for weeks ahead of the games, the report said.

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