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Olympics: Chinese swimmers send Paris warning amid doping furore

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As the global sporting community reacted with shock to a mass doping case in China, the East Asian nation’s swimmers shrugged off the furore at Olympic trials to post a series of eye-catching times in the lead-up to Paris.
China has yet to confirm its squad for the July 26-Aug. 11 Games but the Shenzhen trials showed the team will have enough medal threats to give swimming powers the United States and Australia food for thought.

Teenage sensation Pan Zhanle took seven gold medals from the trials that finished over the weekend, claiming the 100m freestyle in a sizzling 46.97 seconds, 0.17 seconds off his world record (46.80) set at the World Championships in Doha in February.

Pan’s emergence has lifted China’s already-strong prospects for gold in both the men’s and mixed medley relay events, where they will boast men’s breaststroke weapon Qin Haiyang and women’s Olympic 200m butterfly champion Zhang Yufei.

Breaststroker Tang Qianting has also boosted China’s medal chances in the women’s medley relay, while emerging as a threat to American world record holder Lilly King in the individual 100m event.

Tang, 20, won the 100m breaststroke in Shenzhen with an Asian record swim of 1:04.68, a couple of months after beating a depleted field for the world title in Doha. Wang Shun, the first Asian male to win gold in the men’s 200m individual medley at the Tokyo Games, showed he remains a force in the event at the age of 30 as he claimed the national title in 1:55.35, his third-best time. Chinese swimming is in the spotlight after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said it would launch an independent review over its handling of a case that allowed 23 swimmers who tested positive for a banned substance to avoid punishment.

The swimmers all tested positive for trimetazidine, a heart medication, before the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 but were cleared of wrongdoing after a Chinese investigation found the results were due to contamination.

WADA accepted the explanation, but last week announced an independent review of the case after pressure from national anti-doping authorities.

The independent review is expected to report its findings in two months.

China won six medals, including three golds, at the Tokyo Olympics to finish fourth on the medal table behind the United States, Australia and Britain.

China will aim higher at Paris, where their strength in relays could see them challenge their previous best at the 2012 London Olympics where they finished second with 10 medals including five golds.

The Chinese team head into a closed training camp in Shanghai in early-May, a report posed on the Chinese Olympic Committee’s website said.

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