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Li Na cleared of doping allegations

By Sun Xiaochen | China Daily | Updated: 2013-08-29 01:05

Tennis star's coach says stories about her steroid use 'totally made up'

China's tennis queen Li Na has once again found herself at the center of controversy after a recent New York Times profile caused misunderstanding that the 2011 French Open champion took banned substance at the advice of her former coach.

According to the profile story published on Sunday, Li was persuaded by then-coach Yu Liqiao to take steroid pills in 2002 despite of her allergy. In the article, Yu also tried to prevent Li from dating Jiang Shan, who would later become her husband, forcing Li to temporarily retire in 2002.

Li Na cleared of doping allegations

A screen capture of the photos in New York Times' news feature - Li Na, China's Tennis Rebel, published on Aug 22, 2013. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]

The article triggered sensation on Chinese media outlets, which translated it into Chinese but wrongly identified the substance Li took was testosterone, a performance-enhancing drug banned by the anti-doping authorities around the world.

China's Anti-Doping Agency denied the allegation.

"Steroids in general are a kind of medicine, and only testosterone, which is also a type of steroid, is widely considered as a banned substance in sports," said Zhao Jian, deputy-director of China's Anti-Doping Agency, as reported by Beijing Youth Daily on Wednesday.

Brook Larmer, who wrote the story for the Times, conceded that the information about Li taking steroid pills was not quoted directly from the player but sourced from her autobiography. In it, she said she took pills to treat menstrual disorders before the 2002 Asian Games.

Yu denied the allegations on Wednesday that she had tried to persuade Li to take drugs.

"It's something totally made up. I never taught my players to improve their performance by doping. It's not working in tennis, and I don't believe that's what Li said," said Yu as quoted by Yangtze Evening News on Wednesday.

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