BEIJING, China - Chinese officials have reacted angrily to doping accusations swirling around their newest swimming superstar Ye Shiwen, who has won two gold medals at the London Olympics.
The accusations grew after the 16-year-old Ye won the women's 400-metre individual medley, and Ye also won Tuesday's 200-metre IM race. In Saturday's 400, Ye swam the last lap in 28.93 seconds — a split-second faster than American winner Ryan Lochte posted in the last 50 of the men's race.
On Wednesday, the state-run Global Times fired back, saying questions about Ye's feats were unfair.
"The West still judges China with an old mentality, and is petty about the progress China makes," the newspaper said in an editorial. That was followed by the state broadcaster CCTV stepping in to support Ye on its noon newscast.
Ye's father, Ye Qingsong, told Chinese media that western media are "always arrogant." Olympic organizers in London also defended the Chinese swimmer.
Ye received support on Wednesday from the swimmer who finished second to her in Tuesday's race, Alicia Coutts of Australia.
"I feel for the poor girl, just to have that speculation weighing on her," Coutts said. "I believe in innocent until proven guilty."
For decades, Beijing has rallied public support with Olympic gold medals won by athletes trained in a Soviet-style sports system supported by the government.
The athletic achievements are used to inspire national pride and patriotism, and deflect criticism of the ruling Communist Party.
In the Chinese media, the Olympic medal table is ranked by the number of golds won, instead of the total number of medals. After winning 51 golds at home four years ago, China has won 13 already in London, followed by the United States with nine.
To many Chinese, the golds are a sign of the country's power, and gold medallists are rewarded far more generously than silver and bronze medal winners.
Sometimes that means tears of sorrow even when winning a silver, as was the case with weightlifter Wu Jingbiao this week.
"I let my country down; I let the Chinese weightlifting team down; I let everyone who has cared about me down. I am sorry," Wu said through tears after finishing second behind the surprise North Korean winner the 56-kilogram division.
In another case, medal hopeful in the women's 53-kilogram category, Zhou Jun, was attacked in the media after she was eliminated without a single successful lift. A Chinese newspaper called it the "most shameful defeat" in the history of Chinese women's weightlifting.
The doping questions come as China is involved in another controversy in London, with badminton officials launching disciplinary proceedings against four women's doubles pairs Wednesday for appearing to try and lose their matches at the London Olympics to secure a favourable draw.
World doubles champions Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang of China lost to their South Korean opponents Jung Kyun-eun and Kim Ha-na in a result ensured that the top-seeded Wang and Yu will avoid playing their No. 2-seeded Chinese teammates until the final. Both pairs were booed loudly by the crowd Tuesday after dumping serves into the net and making simple errors.
Better Luck Next Time Fellas
Canada's Blake Worsley, clockwise from top left, Tobias Oriwol, Colin Russell, and Alec Page react to their finish after competing in the men's 4 x 200-meter freestyle heats at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London on Tuesday, July 31, 2012. The team finished 7th in their heat and will not be attending the finals.
Canada's Scott Dickens competes in a men's 200-meter breaststroke heat at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London on Tuesday, July 31, 2012. Dickens finished first in his heat.
Swimming To The Semis
Canadian Olympian Brent Hayden does kicking drill during a training session in London on Friday July 27, 2012. Hayden posted the fifth-fastest time in qualifying at 48.52 seconds in the men's 100-metre freestyle.
Lacroix Makes The Cut
Canada's Audrey Lacroix competes in a women's 200-meter butterfly heat at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London on Tuesday, July 31, 2012. Lacroix advances to the semifinals after finishing in 15th place.
Rumours Of Doping
China's Ye Shiwen gestures after competing in a women's 200-meter individual medley swimming semifinal at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Monday, July 30, 2012.
Second Round Departure
Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada returns to Venus Williams of the United States at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, London at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012.
Milos Raonic of Canada returns a shot to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the All England Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon, in London, at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012.
Canada Scores Its Second Medal
Canada's Roseline Filion and Meaghan Benefeito dive in the women's synchronised 10-meter platform finals at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London on Tuesday, July 31, 2012.
Canada's Third Medal
Canada's Antoine Valois-Fortier, top, flips over USA's Travis Stevens in the -81-kg judo final at the 2012 Summer Olympics Tuesday, July 31, 2012 in London. Fortier won the match to take the bronze medal.
Smiling With Canada's Second Medal
Bronze Medalists Meaghan Benfeito, front, and Roseline Filion, of Canada, react after a medal ceremony for the Women's Synchronized 10 Meter Platform Diving final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Tuesday, July 31, 2012.
Canada's Fourth Medal
Christine Girard of Canada competes during the women's 63-kg, group A, weightlifting competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012, in London. Girard won the bronze medal.
Judo(n't) Mess With Him
SIlver medalist Ole Bischof, of Germany, from left, gold medalist Kim Jae-bum, of South Korea and bronze medalists Antoine Valois-Fortier, of Canada, and Ivan Nifontov, of Russia, hold up their medals after the men's 81-kg judo competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012, in London.
Bringing It With The Bronze
Canada's Christine Girard, from Rouyn-Noranda, Que., shows off her bronze medal in the women's 63-kg weightlifting final at the 2012 Summer Olympics Tuesday, July 31, 2012 in London.
On To The Finals
Canada's Brent Hayden starts in a men's 100-meter freestyle swimming semifinal at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Tuesday, July 31, 2012.
Can't Make The Podium
Canadian gymnast Kristina Vaculik performs on the uneven bars during the Artistic Gymnastics women's team final at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012, in London. Vaculik, along with her other four teammates finished fifth in the finals.