Ministry of Health: No gene therapy for athletes allowed in China 2008-07-25 01:03:17

BEIJING, July 24 (Xinhua) -- China has never approved any hospital to offer performance-enhancing stem-cell therapy, a Ministry of Health official said here on Thursday.

He made the remarks in response to a German TV report that some Chinese hospitals offered what is described as performance-enhancing gene therapy treatment.

"China has never allowed medical institutions or staff to provide stem-cell therapy aimed at improving athletes' performance," he said.

Any medical institution or medical worker doing so would be severely punished under the law, he stressed.

The official added he welcomed media scrutiny and clues to help the government's anti-doping efforts.

In gene doping, athletes put a second copy of certain cells into their bodies to try to increase muscle mass or improve endurance.

As early as March 2004 China had implemented its Anti-Doping Code. Over the past two years, the country had launched several special investigations into performance-enhancing drugs to ensure a fair Olympics.

In these aggressive campaigns, 23 companies were punished for illegal drug trade, or selling sports performance enhancers that shouldn't have been available over the counter since last year.

In addition, three drug makers were ordered to suspend production of relevant drugs, while another 18 had their licenses revoked. Another 321 websites containing illegal drug trading information were shut down.