Chinese doctor drags Michael Phelps into doping speculation
Michael Phelps smiles after winning a semifinal heat of the 200-meter butterfly. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times / July 31, 2012)
LONDON -- First, there was this screaming headline in Britain's Daily Mail: "US Attacks China Over Drugs Row Supergirl Swimmer."
But the next move in the swim pool tat-for-tat war of words between the United States and China was truly bizarre and strangely out of focus, as a former Olympic doctor from China promptly decided to throw Michael Phelps and his 14 gold medals under the bus.
If the doctor, Chen Zhanghao, was trying to steer the conversation away from newly minted gold medalist Ye Shiwen and defend the teenager, it came off as clumsy and ill-advised in comments reported by the Sydney Morning Herald. Chen was in charge of the Chinese team's medical staff through four Olympic Games, starting in Los Angeles in 1984.
"Abnormal?" Chen was quoted as saying to the newspaper, "America's Phelps broke seven world records! Is he normal?
"I suspect Phelps, but without evidence, I have to recognize that we should be grounded in facts. The Americans have made many extraordinary performances, but without evidence we have kept silent."Evidence.
Oh that. Yes, that appears to be an important thing, doesn't it?
The best line of the story by the newspaper's highly regarded correspondent in China was in regard to Chen's current credibility, noting that he "is arguably tainted by his own role in sports doping in the '80s and '90s, as revealed in anexclusive interview with Fairfax."