China's Wang has record run 10,000-meter time yields drug rumors TRACK AND FIELD

September 09, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

Chinese officials have gone on the offensive to counter speculation about the use of illegal, performance-enhancing drugs within their sports system, but one of their wonder women gave the track and field world cause to wonder anew yesterday.

Competing in China's National Games at Beijing, Wang Junxia ran the 10,000 meters in 29 minutes, 31.78 seconds, becoming the first woman to break the 30-minute barrier and eclipsing by 41.96 seconds the world record set in 1986 by Norway's Ingrid Kristiansen.

"My first reaction is one of sadness," said Lynn Jennings, the United States' No. 1-ranked 10,000 runner and the bronze medalist in the 1992 Summer Olympics and the recent World Championships. "A little bit of joy went out of the sport today.

"However that record was achieved, it was not achieved naturally."

For a woman to take that much time off the 10,000 world record is not unprecedented, however. Seldom run on the track before the International Amateur Athletic Federation recognized it as an official distance for women in 1981, it is still considered a developing event.

When Mary Slaney ran 31:35.3 in 1982, she broke the previous record by almost 42 seconds. Kristiansen's 30:13.74 in 1986 broke her own record set one year earlier by almost 46 seconds.

But because both had outstanding results over a period of years in other middle-distance and distance events, their 10,000 times were considered credible.

Wang, 20, who began competing in track only five years ago at a sports school in her northeastern China hometown of Dalian, ran more than a minute faster yesterday than her personal best, set when she won last month's World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. Before this year, her best was 32:29.90.

Wang's speed aroused Jennings' suspicion.

"To run a 29:30 10K, that means you have to put two 14:45 5Ks back to back," said Jennings, whose U.S. record is 31:19.89. "Only one woman, [Ireland's] Sonia O'Sullivan, has run one 5K that fast this year."

Speculation among many athletes and coaches in Stuttgart was that Chinese women were using banned substances after they had won the 1,500, 3,000 and 10,000.

Concerned that such talk will damage Beijing's bid for the 2000 Summer Olympics if International Olympic Committee members fear a drug scandal within China's government-sponsored sports system, officials from the country had addressed the question this week during an anti-doping conference in London.

Weng Qingzhang, deputy secretary of the Chinese Association of Sports Medicine, attributed the success in the World Championships to the physiology of Chinese women and their capacity for overcoming hardships.

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