China hit by doping hammer blow

Incheon (South Korea) (AFP) - A Chinese hammer champion was stripped of her Asian Games gold medal for doping Friday in a case that punctured the euphoria surrounding China's dominance of the regional Olympics.

Zhang Wenxiu, who has three Asiad titles to her name, evoked memories of China's notoriety of the 1990s when she became the sixth drugs case in Incheon.

On the penultimate day, it brought a sour note to a campaign which has otherwise been a triumph for China, who have run away with it on the medals table with 149 out of 432 golds.

The Chinese Olympic Committee said the positive test for anabolic agent zeranol may have come from contaminated meat, but it did not indicate that it planned to appeal.

"The athlete may dope deliberately, but there also remains the possibility that the positive reading was due to her consumption of contaminated meat," said a statement quoted by the state Xinhua news agency.

"Whatever the cause is, we respect the OCA's decision regarding Zhang's case, because the World Anti-Doping Code stipulates that athletes must bear the subsequences for the substance found in his or her body," the statement added.

In better news for China, their divers completed a perfect 10-title haul as platform king Qiu Bo and He Zi in the women's 3m springboard rounded off a flawless team performance.

They were among seven gold medals for China on Friday with just seven left in play before the 15-day event closes with a ceremony at Incheon Main Stadium on Saturday evening.

South Korea, second on the table with 77 golds, won a thrilling men's basketball final as they beat favourites Iran 79-77, coming from five points behind with two minutes left.

- Boxing apology -

T.J. Moon, who hit 19 points, said his heart was in his mouth when Iran captain Samad Nikkhah Bahrami went for what would have been a title-winning three-pointer in the dying seconds.

"I was nervous about them hitting a three to win," Moon told AFP. "He had been making shots all night -- but luckily he missed."

Kazakhstan's boxers dominated the men's finals with six out of 10 golds, as a row over judging standards finally took a back seat.

Ilyas Suleimenov (flyweight), Daniyar Yeleussinov (welter), Zhanibek Alimkhanuly (middle), Adilbek Niyazymbetov (light heavy), Anton Pinchuk (heavy) and Ivan Dychko (super heavy) completed the roll of honour.

"To think we have six gold medals, one silver and one bronze at the end of this great celebration of boxing is really unbelievable," superheavyweight Dychko told reporters.

India's Sarita Devi, who refused to accept her lightweight bronze medal in protest at the judging of her semi-final, apologised for the podium snub.

"I regret and apologize. Such an incident will never reoccur in the future," she said in an International Boxing Association statement.

War-torn Afghanistan's dreams of a first Asian Games cricket title were dashed by Sri Lanka, who overcame a batting slump to win the men's Twenty20 final by 68 runs.

Bowled out for 133, the Sri Lankans hit back to skittle the impatient Afghan batsmen for 65 in the Twenty20 match watched by a full house at the 2,500-capacity Yeonhui field in Incheon.

"Hopefully it will be a gold next time," said Afghanistan's captain Mohammad Nabi.

Karate and soft tennis both have gold medals available on the final day as well as table tennis, giving China the chance for a final flourish before the Games closes with a show headlined by Korean pop stars Bigbang.