With five doping violation cases in marathons announced this month, the Chinese Athletics Association (CAA) has pledged to introduce severe measures in 2018 to clamp down on doping in marathon races.
The latest anti-doping violation information released by the China Anti-doping Agency (CHINADA) last week showed two amateur runners tested positive for EPO after in-competition tests last year and two more were caught for avoiding doping tests.
Wang Jiali, a professional runner who finished 57th at the 2012 London Olympics, also tested positive for EPO four months after she won the gold medal at the Chinese National Games last April.
The 31-year-old Wang was slapped with an eight-year ban as a second-time offender and her coach Lu Qiang was given a lifetime ban, as well as an 80,000 yuan (about ) fine.
"The CAA vows to root out drug cheats in the country's marathon races. We are planning to introduce new measures this year to fight against doping in marathon, including conducting more out-of-competition doping tests among the top 50 ranked runners in China and holding more events for amateur runners to educate them about doping," said Shui Tao, head of the Marathon Committee under the CAA.
According to statistics from the CHINADA, a total of 796 in-competition tests were conducted at 114 marathon races last year, with 13 overseas and five local athletes testing positive. There were also two cases where athletes avoided testing.
Shui stressed that athletes who are caught doping would also be facing harsher punishment this year.
"Cheaters will be given the maximum punishment based on China's anti-doping code and their names will be widely exposed in the media and the marathon community. We hope these measures could work as a deterrent," Shui said.