State-sponsored doping in China was revealed in a letter from 10 Chinese track and field athletes, including world record holder Wang Junxia, under coach Ma Junren, Chinese state media and the South China Morning Post reports.
Junxia wrote to a journalist in 1995 that she and her teammates were forced to take “large doses of illegal drugs over the years” under the direction of Jungren. She said some athletes would discard pills that were given to them, but that Junren would personally inject his athletes. The letter was written two years after Junxia set the world record at 3,000-meters (8:06.11) and 10,000-meters (29:31.78). Her 10,000-meter world record shattered the previous world record by Ingrid Kristiansen of Norway by 42 seconds.
“For many years, [he] forced us to take a large dose of illegal drugs. It was true,” the letter read.
Junxia is the 1993 world champion at 10,000-meters and 1996 Olympic champion at 5,000-meters. At the 1993 Chinese national championships, Junxia ran the 1500-meters in 3:51.92 behind Qu Yunxia’s 3:50.46 world record run. Junxia retired from competition in 1997 and was inducted into the IAAF Hall of Fame in 2012.
An investigation by the International Association of Athletics Federation is looking to verify the letter. If it is proven to be from the athletes, it would result in consequences for their titles, medals and reputations.
“The IAAF’s first action must be to verify that the letter is genuine,” IAAF spokesman Chris Turner said. “In this respect, the IAAF has asked the Chinese Athletics Association to assist it in that process.”
Ethiopia’s Meselech Melkamu is the second fastest all-time at 10,000-meters, with her personal best of 29:53.80 coming in 2009. Qu Yunxia, another member of Junren’s training group, has the second fastest time at 3,000-meters from the same race as Junxia with an 8:12.18 finish.
Junren was fired from the Olympic team in 2000 after six of his athletes failed drugs tests.