Winning ban appeal puts Tong back on mat, says coach
Updated: 2011-02-25 07:54
By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily)
BEIJING - Wu Weifeng, the coach of China's Olympic champion judoka Tong Wen, welcomed the overturn of her doping ban by the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) on Wednesday and said Tong was now the legitimate gold medal favorite for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
The CAS overturned a two-year ban on Tong, which was imposed by the International Judo Federation (IJF) last year. It cleared the four-time world champion and Beijing Olympic gold medalist, citing a "procedural failure" in laboratory tests.
"Our long-awaited arbitration result finally comes," an emotional Wu said. "She (Tong) never stopped appealing her innocence and the chance to appear at the London Olympics. It's definitely good news."
Wu said the decision came at the right time because Tong can now take part in the second phase of Olympic qualifying events, which start in May.
"Although not competing, Tong has kept to her training routine all year long and she is in good shape. There is still enough time for her. With her ability, and a proper tune-up, she remains the title favorite for the London Games," Wu said.
Tong, the women's +78kg gold medalist at the 2008 Games, tested positive for clenbuterol, a performance-enhancing drug banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), after claiming the gold medal at the World Championships on Aug 30, 2009.
The IJF's executive board imposed a two-year suspension on Tong last May and stripped her of the gold medal - her fourth straight title at the Worlds. The 28-year-old blamed her positive test on "contaminated meat" she ate during the competition and filed an appeal to the CAS requesting an annulment of the suspension last July.
Tong wanted to have her B sample analyzed after her A sample came back positive on Sept 8, 2009. However, she withdrew her request three months later following advice from the Chinese Judo Association (CJA). Nevertheless, the IJF tested the B sample on Nov 25, 2009 without informing her or offering her an opportunity to attend the test at the WADA lab in Cologne, Germany.
The CAS panel of three lawyers recognized that "the right of the athlete to be present herself or through a representative whenever the sample B is analyzed, irrespective of who asks for it, was illegally deprived".
The CJA said it has not received any notification from the IJF to cancel Tong's ban. Tong's ban denied her the chance to seek a third straight title at the Asian Games in Guangzhou last November.
(China Daily 02/25/2011 page24)
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