China's state security targets family of doctor who blew whistle on Olympic doping

Police want Xue Yinxian to halt publication of a book about doping during the 1980s and 1990s, her son says.
By Yitong Wu, Raymond Chung and Qiao Long
2022.02.03
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China's state security targets family of doctor who blew whistle on Olympic doping Xue Yinxian (R), the former team doctor of the Chinese national team, and her son Yang Weidong (L), an independent artist, in an undated photo.
Yang Weidong

As the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) gears up for the opening of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, state security police in Shanghai have forced the son of a retired Chinese sports team doctor who blew the whistle on organized doping to try to prevent her from publishing what she knows, on pain of losing his home.

Xue Yinxian, who has been granted political asylum in Germany, is about to publish a book detailing the state-mandated doping of Chinese athletes during the 1980s and 1990s, her son Yang Weidong told RFA.

"The state security police want to stop this book from getting published, and the CCP wants to impose its will on us," said Yang, who is in Germany with his mother. "But I'm definitely going to go ahead and publish it on schedule."

"I've made preparations in case something unexpected happens [to me or my mother], and I've made many copies of the manuscript, one of which is in the hands of my lawyer," he said.

Yang said his family back home in Shanghai have been targeted by state security police, who are putting pressure on his brother Yang Weizhong to persuade him not to publish.

They also put pressure on Yang Weizhong to call his mother with "Lunar New Year greetings," he said.

"They are threatening my mother by making him wish her a happy new year," Yang said. "The state security police are threatening my brother via a friend of his, and want him to act as a go-between to persuade my mother not to publish, on pain of him having his home confiscated."

He said he and his brother had spoken on Wednesday via WeChat, but that the conversation was almost certainly being monitored by state security police, to ensure Yang Weizhong did what they wanted him to do.

Yang said he and Xue, who is in her eighties, are currently hiding in a small town in Germany after been stalked and harassed by Chinese agents.

"Ever since our political asylum application was successful, we have have been stalked and intimidated," he said. "The worst of it has been ever since the Tokyo Olympics ... during which my brother suddenly turned up in Germany to visit my mother."

"I spoke to him once then, and the CCP and the state security police were definitely behind all of this."

Widespread doping scheme

Xue has previously revealed some details of the systematic doping of Chinese athletes at the Olympics Games and other international sport events, saying that more than 10,000 athletes received performance-enhancing drugs during the 1980s and 1990s.

She has said that the vast majority of Chinese medals from that era should be forfeit under current anti-doping rules.

Yang hopes to make public some of the data from his mother's time as a team doctor via social media, in addition to the three-volume, 540,000-character book which contains more than 1,200 photos and illustrations.

It includes her eyewitness account of the doping by former top gymnasts Li Ning, Lou Yun and Li Yuejiu, as well as the persecution meted out to Yue's family, and anyone else who spoke out against the doping regime.

France-based commentator Wang Longmeng said the state security police had inadvertently giving Xue's book free publicity, by targeting her family.

"China's state security police are so dedicated, and haven't been idle, not even during Lunar New Year," Wang told RFA. "Now they have given this strange New Year's gift to Dr. Xue and Yang Weidong, by taking their relatives hostage to suppress dissent."

"Contrary to their intention, it will probably help spread the word about [the book] to even more people; I want to thank them for promoting it," he said.

A staff member walks pass a sign for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, in a file photo. Reuters
A staff member walks pass a sign for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, in a file photo. Reuters
'Political sports show'

CCP leader Xi Jinping promised a "simple, safe and exciting" Games on Thursday, as athletes arriving in Olympic venues were handed out gift bags including Samsung mobile phones, headphones and custom jewelry worth hundreds of U.S. dollars apiece.

Current affairs commentator Wei Xing said the entire event is an attempt to boost China's international image and a vanity project for Xi.

"This Winter Olympics is regarded as the proof of what the regime can do ... with massive investment going into sports infrastructure, as well as the entire event taking place in a self-isolation bubble from COVID-19," Wei said.

"There have been massive costs incurred just to build the huge amount of self-isolation facilities across Beijing and Zhangjiakou alone," he said.

Wei said the budget was largely secret, and hadn't undergone the usual scrutiny by the country's rubber-stamp parliament, the National People's Congress (NPC).

"It's all about the will and preferences of China's leaders; it's a massive political sports show," he said.

Local residents said their lives are being continually disrupted ahead of the event, however, as the authorities pursue a "zero-COVID" program of stringent lockdowns and internal travel restrictions with mandatory quarantine, via the "health code" app.

A resident of the northern port city of Tianjin who gave only the surname Zhu said she knew of 30 people at least currently held at a compulsory quarantine facility after returning to the city from Beijing.

"The government has gone too far," Zhu said.

An academic surnamed Shi said strict controls on online speech are also ramping up ahead of the CCP's Party Congress later this year.

"The main reason is to prepare well ahead of the 20th Party Congress," Shi said. "Actually, the pandemic is no longer the top priority."

"They want to avoid excessive circulation of public speech. In some cases, it's even worse than it was during the Cultural Revolution," he said.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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