Former WR Holder Li Zhesi Banned for Two Years for Positive EPO Test

17-year old Li Zhesi of China has been banned for two years for testing positive for EPO, FINA revealed today.

Zhesi tested positive for the substance in March of 2012 in an out-of-competition test conducted by Chinese Swimming and CHINADA: China’s anti-doping agency, and the positive result earned a two year suspension for both her and her coach.

This positive test was first reported by the Associated Press in June, and the ongoing deliberations caused Zhesi to be left off of China’s Olympic team. In 2009, at only 14 years old, Zhesi swam a 52.81 medley relay anchor that rolled China to a World Record in the 400 medley relay: one that stood until this year’s Olympics when the Americans broke it.

Zhesi’s coach was not specifically named, but it is not uncommon for Chinese coaches to be banned along with their athletes. In 2010, at least three Chinese coaches were banned for the actions of their athletes.

EPO is a hormone that increases the body’s production of red blood cells, and is the same substance that Lance Armstrong recently admitted to using en route to his 7 Tour de France titles.

Zhesi was ranked as the #20 100 freestyler in the world in 2011, and the second-best in a struggling Chinese sprint group. The Chinese have a long history of doping, though their aquatics athletes came through relatively cleanly in 2012; Zhesi is the first public positive test out of the country for the year, though undoubtedly it is also the most significant.

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kind of makes you wonder about Ye Shiwen


please not this again..


Actually, it doesn’t.

At this point, she has not failed a drug test. (I know that doesn’t amount to much for many of you out there, because she COULD be on something that is undetectable. Could doesn’t mean she is, Mr. Leonard)

And unlike Armstrong strong-arming people in the cycling world, I would hope and expect FINA and WADA to stand against a country, its coaches and athletes for repeated doping offenses like China has due to their centrally controlled training and past systemic doping.


They did both swim for the same team though. Teams are extremely insular there in that they live together, train together, eat sleep and swim together without any real autonomy. You would have to believe that if one was doing something, everyone else would have known about it.


who is mr Leonard?


Kinda makes you wonder abou michael phelps.ryan lochte.


European, the structure of the Chinese swimming system is the only reason that a positive Chinese test raises suspicions about other Chinese swimmers. The state-sponsored, systematic manner in which China develops Olympic talent bears resemblance to the East German system. These observable similarities do not necessarily indicate systematic doping, but they naturally provoke western suspicions. Team USA is unburdened by these suspicions not because of racism but because of ideology. The free, open market and recreational structure of USA Swimming bears absolutely no resemblance to a state-sponsored swimming factory. As a result, the same logic that some people use to cast doubt on Ye Shiwen’s accomplishments cannot be applied to the cases of Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte


Unless you think “recreational” is key word here, free and open market does not prevent baseball and football players to get dopped out of their minds. You are not very smart, huh, capitalist?


Speaking of smart, it is “doped” not “dopped.” If you are going to question someone’s intelligence, you might want to proof read your shit.


I was merely commenting on why Americans think the way they think. I believe that Ye Shiwen is clean. I also believe, however, that the Chinese system– a system that strips young Olympic prospects from their families–is unethical. It is this unethical nature that makes the Chinese system as a whole worthy of suspicion.



The US system is much the same way,

The different thing is that on China the kid is taken.. on US the child is much time forced by the family or coaches or on empty promises of Money.

How Many scandals of abuse by parents coaches were seen? That is not any better than what some other countries do..


Allow me to explain why the mode of organization is important. The highly regimented, East German structure of Chinese swimming more easily facillitates systematic doping. While it is true that RL or MP could easily dope in a free market system, the structure of USA Swimming does not facillitate systematic doping. That means if RL doped, it is not any more likely that MP doped, and if MP doped it isn’t any more likely that RL doped. As we saw with the East Germans, a culture of doping can easily spread within a highly-structured national team. Because USA Swimming is comprised of a very loose confederation of independent teams, it is less likely that national team coaches could introduce or… Read more »


Meaning that they were probably toking up together at some point? Wouldn’t be surprised since they often seemed to be a mismatched but package deal.


Who are “they”?


Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte? Look, I’m just as tired of these sarcastic counter-accusations as I am of the original accusations. Such counter-accusations reflect a shallow understandinf of the history and motivations behind Mr. Leonard’s accusations. Once you understand the reasons behind his suspicions, you may rebuke him more effectively.


What is Leonard motivation? please inform everyone.. HIS REAL intentions.. not the ones he told the media..

Justin Thompson

I second that…only a matter of time before she is busted Mrs. I swim my last 100 in the 400IM faster than Lochte!


I can hear Craig Lord cracking his knuckles across the ocean…


I’m glad the coach is banned as well, since I’m not sure a minor in the Chinese national program would have all that much power to say no to being told to take something, even if she were informed about what that substance was. Sorry if that seems harsh but China’s program has bought that reputation for itself through decades.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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