You Either Skate or You Lie

China shoved its way to gold medals in Olympic speed skating, and some countries think its judging is unfair

Ren Ziwei grapples Shaolin Sandor Liu, the final blow in a skirmish Shaolin seemingly started

Ren Ziwei grapples Shaolin Sandor Liu, the final blow in a skirmish Shaolin seemingly started

Ella Whalen, Staff Writer

Only a week into the Beijing Winter Olympics, China has already been accused of cheating in several games of speed skating. 

One major instance occurred on the 7th, in the quarterfinal for the women’s 500-meter race. During the final lap, Chinese skater Fan Kexin was seen flicking a marker at Canadian skater Alyson Charles, tripping her. Fan had reached over the leg of Canadian skater Florence Brunelle, who was later disqualified for the tripping despite having no part of it. Charles was still allowed to continue to the semifinal, while Fan failed to advance.

Another incident occurred on the same day in the final men’s 1000-meter race, with another accusation of interfering with an opponent. Hungarian skater Shaolin Sandor Liu and Chinese skater Ren Ziwei were neck and neck into the final turn, and both tried to edge each other out to the finish line. Their confrontation led to Shaolin tumbling into the wall, but seemingly crossing the line first. Shaolin was disqualified for obstruction, but Ren was not penalized and was awarded gold, even though he shoved Shaolin into the ice.

South Korea has also accused China of unfairness over the semifinals for the men’s 1000-meter. Skaters Hwang Dae-heon and Lee June-seo were both disqualified for lane changing violations, allowing two Chinese skaters to advance, including Ren Ziwei. Their complaints to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) are not over only these two skaters, but how China has allegedly been biased in its disqualifying of competitors. Both this and a complaint about Shaolin’s disqualification were thrown out since they were about rule violations. 

With the general air of distrust of China in the West, especially over the past decade, it is plausible that these complaints are exaggerated. On the other hand, with how China is hosting the games and how competitive they have been in the past, it is also plausible that their rulings are biased in favor of Chinese competitors, consciously or not.