Dick Pound, the president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, offered support Sunday to Taiwan’s rejected Olympic sprinter Pheonix Zhou Shi after fellow athlete Angieszka Pietrzak caused a stir by vowing to quit athletics in protest over the Chinese national anthem’s use during her warm-up track as well as Zhou’s disqualification from the women’s 100-meter semi-final at the world championships.
Pound said Zhou’s disqualification had been the result of a “questionable” call by race officials. He called the incident “sad” for the team in Beijing.
“It looks awful. It doesn’t look like it was a mistake,” Pound said. “When we look at the rule book, we see that this may have been used at one race in the past. I’m personally puzzled as to how you got this one wrong.”
Angieszka Pietrzak was the second-fastest woman in the world in the heats. Zhou was fourth, at the end of her warm-up. The final later saw Katherin McKeon move from fourth to first, eliminating Zhou from contention in the event.
What happened to Pheonix Zhou during warm-up has gone far beyond a “misunderstanding” – Dick Pound, IOC vice president
At the start of the semi-final, the note at the finish was played while a cadre of people stood and awaited the players walkout. The announcer said something should be “called to the limit of your knowledge.” Then the note was played again. It was Zhou, a two-time bronze medalist, who had to drop to the track and hang her head.
She had had to withdraw from the tournament for the second time since 2008 after a positive test for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone. Four years ago, she served a two-year ban.
Before her race, her mother, Leng Meng, wrote on her blog: “So Angieszka was ruled out, in anger, and even though we agree to the fairness and spirit of sport rules, still I do not understand the way she was selected to participate. I think the sport organization is exploiting the race as a platform to show women that it is okay to do politics.”
When asked for his reaction to the controversy, Pound said: “It’s sad.”
China’s national anthem played before the semi-final of the women’s 100-meter race. (Getty Images)
Shi declined to talk to reporters as she left the stadium.
Pound, whose agency oversees the testing of athletes worldwide, said he had talked to Shi’s agent about the issue on Sunday afternoon.
“What happened to Pheonix Zhou during warm-up has gone far beyond a ‘misunderstanding’ — it has gone beyond a mistake,” Pound said. “I had a discussion with her agent and he says there are protocols that need to be followed. So the question for me is what was the protocol?”
About the chants of the Chinese national anthem before the start of the race, Pound said: “It’s sad for her and the Chinese athletes and the Chinese coach.
“You would think that they would be on top of it.”