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Wednesday, September 22, 2021
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News Reports On Mirabai’s Chances Of Bagging Gold Medal ‘If China’s Hou Fails Doping Test’ Are Misleading

Days after Chanu Saikhom Mirabai won the silver medal in the 49kg women’s weightlifting category at the Tokyo Olympics, news organisations reported that Mirabai stood a chance of bagging the Gold medal if China’s Hou Zhihui failed a doping test. 

On 26 July, ANI reported that China’s Hou Zhihui who won the gold medal in the 49kg category of weightlifting at the Tokyo Olympics “will be tested by anti-doping authorities and if she fails the test, India’s Mirabai Chanu will be awarded gold.”

“She has been asked to stay in Tokyo and the test will be done. The test is definitely happening,” reported ANI, based on a “source in the know of developments.”

Screenshot of ANI report on Mirabai's chances of winning a Gold medal after weightlifter Hou's doping test post her Olympic win
Screenshot of ANI report on Mirabai’s chances of winning a Gold medal after weightlifter Hou’s doping test post her Olympic win

An archive version of ANI’s report can be viewed here

Other news organisations including News18, Jagran Josh, The Federal, and North East Today also reported on Mirabai’s chance of bagging the Gold medal if China’s Hou failed a doping test. 

Users on Twitter and Facebook also shared the claim of Mirabai winning the Gold if Hou failed a doping test. 

One such Twitter user’s post reads, “Hou Zhihui will be tested for doping. She beat Mirabai Chanu in 49kg women’s category weightlifting and secured gold. If she fails the test, Mirabai Chanu will be awarded gold. #MirabaiChanu #HouZhihui #Weightlifting #Tokyo2020”

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Fact Check / Verification

In reference to their earlier report about Mirabai’s chances of winning the Gold if China’s Hou failed a doping test, ANI later reported that “there has been no testing and it was an inadvertent error while reporting the news.”

ANI’s 30 July report reads, “It stands clarified that Hou was not taken for an anti-doping test. Furthermore, there have been no developments from the routine anti-doping procedures that were carried out after the 49kg competition.”

Screenshot of ANI article clarifying their reporting error on Hou's doping test after her Olympic win
Screenshot of ANI article clarifying their reporting error on Hou’s doping test after her Olympic win

An archived version of this report can be viewed here

Newschecker reached out to the International Testing Agency (ITA) for clarification on Hou’s doping test after she won the gold medal. 

ITA’s Communications Manager, Marta, responded via email saying “The ITA transparently discloses all apparent or confirmed anti-doping rule violations and publishes them on its website. Based on this principle, we do not share any comments before issuing any statements ourselves. We have not issued any statement regarding the athlete you mention.

We cross-checked on ITA’s website and found no statement about China’s Hou undergoing a doping test after her Olympic Gold win. 

Note that neither ANI nor the other news organisations that reported on Hou’s alleged doping test after her Olympic win has unpublished their reports at the time of writing this article. 

Newschecker has reached out to the World Anti-Doping Agency. This article will be updated on receiving a response from them. 

With inputs from Preeti Chauhan

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Conclusion

China’s Hou Zhihui was not tested by anti-doping authorities after her Olympic Gold win in the 49kg weightlifting category. Earlier reports by ANI and other news organisations on Mirabai bagging the Gold if Hou were to fail the test are misleading. 

Result: Misleading 

Our Sources

ANI: https://www.aninews.in/news/sports/others/tokyo-olympics-weightlifting-gold-medallist-zhihui-hou-not-taken-for-doping-test20210730092246/

International Testing Agency: https://ita.sport/ita-news/

International Testing Agency’s Communications Manager


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Nikita Vashisth
Nikita is a writer and editor for English fact-checking. She also leads projects to understand the misinformation and fake-news ecosystem—with an emphasis on data and psychology. Previously, she has worked with IndiaSpend, CNN-News18 and written for Citizen Matters and Mongabay-India on the environment, health, and politics. She’s a postgraduate of the Computational Journalism program at Cardiff University, Wales.

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