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Warning against graft, lust for gold renewed

By Reuters | China Daily | Updated: 2016-04-09 07:45

China's sports establishment must learn the lessons from a corruption scandal involving a former deputy sports minister, continue to root out graft and curb a win-at-all costs mentality, the country's top graft-buster said on Friday.

Corruption in international athletics has been in the spotlight due to US and Swiss probes into the soccer's world governing body, FIFA, as well as doping scandals that have rocked tennis and other sports.

China, which is aggressively seeking to stamp out graft in the Party and government ranks, has also sought to eject corrupt elements from its sports establishment, particularly within soccer, which has been hit by match-fixing scandals.

China was hit by two new sports graft scandals last year, with a probe of deputy sports minister Xiao Tian, who sat on China's Olympic Committee, and another into the country's then-volleyball chief.

In a statement released following a meeting on learning the lessons from Xiao's case, the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said the sports sector needed to do more to tackle graft and not rest on its laurels.

"At the same time as fully affirming successes, we must clearly recognize the many challenges facing the development of our sports industry, and that the problems that exist should not be overlooked," said the commission's team based in the General Administration of Sport of China.

"Put effort into resolving all the problems that come from putting the winning of gold above all else, which distorts the spirit of sports," it said.

Liu Peng, head of the sports administration, warned last year that China had to abandon its obsession with gold medals if it wanted to weed out corruption.

Chinese athletes bagged the most gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, a feat accompanied by a wave of national pride and the culmination of China's "100 year dream" to host the world's most prestigious sporting event.

At the London Olympics four years later, China came in second to the United States in the medals table.

Beijing, along with the neighboring city of Zhangjiakou, will host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Last month, President Xi Jinping said China must hold a Winter Olympics that is "clean as the snow", in an indirect reference to the scandals with Xiao and another former top official linked to the Olympics bid.

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