The end is in sight for Wang's suspension
Updated: 2012-09-18 02:10
By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily)
Olympic champion skater hasn't competed in over two years
Will four-time Winter Olympic champion skater Wang Meng return from an indefinite suspension this month?
All signs point to yes.
Although no official from the sport's governing body was available for an interview, there is ample evidence that Wang will return to competition at the National Short Track Speed Skating League on Thursday.
Wang's name appeared on the list of athletes registered for the 2013-14 season released by China's Winter Sports Administrative Center, and its official newspaper reported her return on Monday.
The 27-year-old was kicked off the national team and banned from domestic and international competitions last August for punching team leader Wang Chunlu during a drunken scuffle after she returned late to the training camp following a night out.
China Sports Daily, the official outlet of the national sports authority, said the Winter Sports Administrative Center has decided to reinstate Wang and will allow her to compete.
"Wang has had a profound self-examination and learned her lesson over the past year. For a four-time Olympic titlist, we would like to further educate her by giving her another chance," the report said.
Wang's local team, the Heilongjiang provincial squad, has applied to enter Wang for the league's Harbin stop, which will be held Sept 20-23 in her home province's capital city.
Local officials stressed the final decision can only be made by the center.
"We applied for accreditation for her and we hope she can come back to competition. But we haven't received any formal notification from the center yet, so we have to wait," Cai Xiuli, the deputy secretary and press officer of the Heilongjiang provincial sports bureau, told China Daily on Monday.
According to reports in the Beijing Youth Daily and Beijing Daily, officials with the center have privately indicated that Wang will be approved to race in the Harbin event.
Zhao Yinggang, the director of the center, didn't answer a phone call on Monday afternoon.
"Related officials with the center will come to Heilongjiang for a discussion on Wang, and the results will be announced before the event," Cai said.
"For Wang and the provincial team, they have been preparing for a long time and are tuned up for the competition."
Wang became a household name in China after claiming four gold medal medals in the past two Winter Olympics (the 500m in Turin in 2006, and the 500m, 1,000m and 3,000m relay in Vancouver in 2010), and emerged as a leader on the national team.
Her outspoken manner led to headaches for the team's management.
Last year's debacle was not the first time she's been penalized. She was also kicked off the team in 2007 after a public conflict with head coach Li Yan.
Li, who led the female short-course team to a sweep of all four titles on the women's side in Vancouver, believes Wang remains capable of competing on the Olympic stage.
"I only take care of the national team. Now, she's not a member and only the leader of the center can talk about her issue," Li told Shandong-based Life Daily last week.
After being expelled, Wang returned to her hometown to practice with the provincial team and went for summer training in Canada, where the national team was also training.
Yi Min, Wang's coach on the provincial team, oversaw her training during the squad's five-week stay in Canada and was satisfied with her form.
"She trained with a very positive mind-set, practiced hard and showed a better physical status than last year," Yi told Heilongjiang Daily recently.
"Her level remains far below her peak now. She needs races to test her strength and we would let her race in the 500m, the 1,000m and the relay events if she could."
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