Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Drug official praises China's testing program for athletes; criticises lack of resolve in the US in addressing drug taking by its athletes

PETER CAVE: One of Australia's top sports drug officials has warned Australian coaches they may have egg on their faces if they continue their criticism of drug taking in Chinese sport. John Mendoza, a General Manager with the Australian Sports Drug Agency went further though, accusing the United States of hypocrisy in its criticism of Chinese athletes.

The Australian Sport Drug Agency has been working with the Chinese authorities in their development of testing regimes for Chinese athletes. From Beijing, our correspondent Camille Funnell reports on the rehabilitation of Chinese sport.

CAMILLE FUNNELL: For much of the past three years there's been bad blood between Australian sporting figures and their Chinese counterparts. Australian coaches and officials have been among the most vocal in the world in condemning the use of banned substances by Chinese athletes, and they had good reason. At international meets in 1994, 31 Chinese tested positive for banned substances. The following year it was 17. The Chinese doping scandals coincided with unheard of successes in the pool and on the track. Detection, though, brought disgrace to Chinese sport, and three years on Australia's sports drug watchdog says there's no evidence of systematic doping in China; in fact, quite the opposite.

JOHN MENDOZA: One could never give it a clean bill of health, as in there are particular doping practices which we cannot detect at the moment, and that's true of any group of athletes worldwide. But we can say with confidence, China has a well-planned, well-resourced, independent and targeted testing program.

CAMILLE FUNNELL: Ahead of the Sydney Olympics, John Mendoza of Australia's sports drug agency has virtually cleared Chinese sport. So far this year, the Chinese anti-doping commission has tested 3,050 athletes. Of those, 10 returned positive tests. A similar sample of athletes tested in Australia, found three times that number had tested positive. Australian sports authorities tested 3,500 competitors and found 34 had tested positive for drugs.

John Mendoza even praises the way China is able to test its athletes. He says in Australia evasion of testing is still a problem. When the sports drug agency knocks on an athlete's door, they often can't find them. But in China, he says, the officials virtually ground the athletes, ensuring they're around for examination.

Mr Mendoza warned Australian coaches against continuing their criticism of Chinese sport.

JOHN MENDOZA: I think it's fair to say that there are individuals in Australia who have continued to point fingers over the last 12 months. I would be cautious, if I was in their position, to continuing to point fingers. There are also accusations still coming from the US - US swimming in particular. And I think, again, US swimming officials might do well to look over the fence, if you like, and look at the situation in US track and field. There is clearly a lack of resolve in addressing the doping problems within that sporting group, and we would do well to put pressure on the US to address this problem.

CAMILLE FUNNELL: Mr Mendoza acknowledges China was once the villain of international sport, but says it has now cleaned up its act, and it's well time sporting authorities turned their attention to other countries which have so far evaded detection.

For Chinese athletes praise like this, coming from the host of the next Olympics, will go a long way.

PETER CAVE: Camille Funnell reporting.