China slam drug claims

China hit out at allegations of drug use on Monday before their swimmers prepared to launch a fresh assault on the Olympic pool, as Games organisers moved to quell anger over over empty seats.

The world record-breaking performance of Chinese teenager Ye Shiwen in Saturday’s 400m medley final has been the talk of the Olympics so far, with the British media questioning the legitimacy of her display.

Ye’s final freestyle leg of the race was quicker than that of her counterpart in the men’s race, Ryan Lochte, a statistic that was described as “insane” by Australia’s Stephanie Rice.

The Chinese youngster was back in the pool on Monday for the 200m medley heats, and indicated that once again she will be the woman to beat after qualifying with a time that was nearly two seconds quicker than her rivals.

However Ye bristled when quizzed about drug use in Chinese swimming.

“There is no problem with doping, the Chinese team has a firm policy so there is no problem with that,” Ye said.

The Times newspaper was less convinced however, describing Ye’s astounding last leg performance as “scarcely credible.”

China was caught in several high-profile doping scandals throughout the 1990s, most notably at the 1994 and 1998 World Championships.

However the International Olympic Committee’s medical commission chief Arne Ljungqvist leapt to Ye’s defence, calling the speculation around the youngster’s performances “sad.”

“For me, it is very sad that an unexpected performance is surrounded by suspicions,” he told a briefing.

“I mean to raise suspicion immediately when you see an extraordinary performance — to me it is against the fascination of sport.”

China, who headed the medals table after Sunday, will hope to add to their tally when newly crowned 400m freestyle champion Sun Yang goes for gold in the 200m freestyle final where he will be up against Ryan Lochte of the United States in a high-quality field.

Monday’s four swimming medals are among a total of 12 up for grabs across all competitions on Monday.

Host nation Great Britain, still awaiting their first gold of the Games, will be hoping diving star Tom Daley can challenge for honours in the 10m synchronised platform final where he competes with partner Peter Waterfield.

The first medals in artistic gymnastics will be decided with the men’s team final event, where China and Japan will attempt to put poor qualifying displays behind them to challenge for gold.

China hopes of adding to their medal tally early Monday suffered a setback when Zhu Qinan lost out in a 10m air rifle competition won by Romania’s Alin Moldoveanu.

Away from the medals, Great Britain and Argentina will meet in men’s field hockey after recent tensions between the two nations on the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War.

At Wimbledon, Roger Federer and the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, romped into the next rounds of their respective singles events in the tennis tournament with easy wins.

Meanwhile under-fire London Olympic organisers (LOCOG) continued to face criticism over the banks of empty seats which have been seen across various venues since the Games got under way on Saturday.

Some 3,000 tickets from international sports federations were “put back in the pot” and sold to the public Sunday, LOCOG said amid growing public anger over empty seats.

Organisers have blamed the unfilled seats on accredited officials and members of the media who have failed to take up their reserved places.

Jackie Brock-Doyle, LOCOG’s director of communications, said they had been able to get back 3,000 seats and re-sell them — and will repeat the move each day to make sure as many seats as possible are filled.

“We talked to the international federations yesterday; we were able to put back into the pot for sale around 3,000 tickets last night; they have all been sold,” she told a press conference.

“That includes about 600 for the gymnastics event today and we’re going to do that on a day-to-day basis.”

Brock-Doyle said organisers were making progress, but admitted that the re-distribution of accredited seating was “not an exact science”.