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NEW TESTS CAUGHT CHINESE RED-HANDED

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New testing methods were responsible for discovering that 11 Chinese athletes used performance-enhancing drugs, according to the laboratory that conducted the tests.

"We would not have been able to detect the drugs with the methods that were used a year ago," an official at Mitsubishi Chemical Biochemical Laboratories Inc. said today.The positive doping tests of 11 Chinese athletes at the Asian Games in Hiroshima, Japan, are likely to increase suspicions that recent remarkable Chinese athletic successes are the result of a broad doping program that was somehow medically concealed.

The prohibited substance found in the athletes' urine, dehydrotestosterone, is reportedly much harder to detect than testosterone, a male hormone sometimes used illegally by athletes to build strength.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was unable to disclose information about the nature of the new tests under international sports rules, including those of the International Olympic Committee.

The lab, affiliated with Mitsubishi Chemical Corp., a major Japanese chemical company, is licensed by the IOC to conduct doping tests.

The Olympic Council of Asia announced Saturday that the 11 athletes had been stripped of the medals they won at the October Asian Games.

On Sunday, the Chinese Olympic Committee said it was shocked by the finding that the athletes had used dehydrotesterone, and said they face severe punishment. Chinese news reports did not specify what the punishment would be.

According to China's official Xinhua News Agency, the 11 consisted of five women and six men. The women were swimmers Yang Aihua, Lu Bin and Zhou Guanbin, hurdler Han Qing and cyclist Wang Yan. The men were swimmers Xiong Guoming, Hu Bin, Zhang Bin and Fu Yong, and canoeists Zhang Lei and Qiu Suoren.

Yang won the women's 400-meter freestyle at the World Championships in Rome in September, and Lu won four gold medals at the Asian Games and set a world record in the women's 200-meter individual medley.

Yang was banned two weeks ago by FINA, the sport's governing body, for failing a Japanese drug test before the start of the Asian Games. She is reportedly appealing that decision.

The Chinese Olympic Committee issued a statement Sunday saying it has long opposed the use of banned substances in sports.

It said "it is clear to all the excellent performance of most Chinese athletes was achieved through long-term, hard and scientific training, and their performances could not be totally denied."