A German television reporter turned down a request from Chinese authorities Monday to help identify a Chinese doctor filmed in a documentary offering stem-cell therapy to athletes.
In a documentary aired last week by German ARD television, a man identified as a Chinese doctor offered stem-cell therapy to a reporter posing as an American swimming coach. The episode was filmed with a hidden camera, the doctor's face was blurred and the hospital was not identified.
Although Chinese officials have offered evidence in recent months that they are cracking down on doping before the Beijing Olympics open, the TV documentary suggests that China is still a major center for the illegal production and distribution of performance-enhancing drugs.
"Can you provide us with some information about what specific agency or entity was involved in the report done by ARD," Yan Jiangying, spokeswoman for the state food and drug administration, asked ARD correspondent Jochen Graebert.
Graebert, attending a Monday media conference with three dozen other journalists, turned down the request.
"No I can't," he replied, adding that he did not have the details. He said even if he did, he would probably not offer them.
"We are not prosecutors, we are journalists," he added. "It's not our duty to follow people and see if they get punished or not. ... It's not up to me to tell you."
Sitting alongside Yan, a spokesman for the health ministry didn't dispute the incident took place, but he said the Chinese doctor was probably duping his would-be client.
"According to the view of the experts I consulted, such a technology in China and internationally is not operational," said Mao Qunan, the health ministry spokesman.
"Whether the doctor tricked the reporter, or the story mislead the general public, we are waiting for the media to give an explanation about the specific report about China offering gene doping to athletes."
Du Jijun, general director of China's Anti-Doping Agency, said the country conducted 10,238 doping tests on Chinese athletes in 2007 — 74 percent out-of-competition. He said only 0.4 percent were positive. These included two athletes who were given life-bans earlier this year: swimmer Ouyang Kunpeng and freestyle wrestler Luo Meng.
A third Chinese athlete, race walker Song Hungjuan, was handed a four-year ban this year by track and field world governing body the International Association of Athletics Federations.
Du said six other Chinese athletes had failed recent doping test, but said they were young or provincial-level athletes and he did not name them.
John Fahey, head of World Anti-Doping Agency, has lauded the new Beijing laboratory that will conduct 4,500 tests for banned substances during the Beijing Olympics — 25 percent more than at the 2004 games.