India’s Mirabai Chanu bagged a silver in the Women’s 49kg weightlifting category at Tokyo Olympics. She came second to China’s Zhihui Hou on July 24. Two days hence, ANI published a story claiming Hou will undergo an anti-doping test and Mirabai Chanu will be awarded the gold medal if Hou fails the test. “She has been asked to stay in Tokyo and the test will be done. The test is definitely happening,” ANI quoted a “source in the know of developments” in its report published at 1:18 pm on July 26.

ANI’s report was carried by The Economic Times, Catch News, Business Standard, Times Now, India.com, Republic and The Telegraph.

Pro-BJP propaganda websites The Frustrated Indian and OpIndia also referred to ANI’s report.

Sports journalist Boria Majumdar tweeted about the alleged news – “There is a message in the Indian group in the village that says she is being tested and to watch out what happens.” This was at 12:40 pm, less than an hour before ANI’s report.

He also wrote an article in India Today which said, “While it’s commonplace for Olympic medalists to undergo doping tests, Zhihui’s case involves adverse analytical finding, meaning there will be tests to figure out if there is anything adverse in the first sample.” Sports website The Bridge published an article referring to Majumdar’s tweet.

A plethora of other media organisations reported that Hou will undergo a second doping test – Newsroom Post, Dainik Jagran, ABP News, Aaj Tak, Hindustan, News18, Outlook, Loksatta, India TV and Asianet.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The first person who tweeted that Zhihui Hou will be tested by anti-doping authorities was American hedge fund manager Kyle Bassus at 8:39 am on July 26.

The alleged news also reached Taiwanese media which said that Indonesia’s Windy Cantika Aisah, a Taiwanese indigenous athlete, could win bronze if Hou was found doping. “Olympic officials now suspect Hou of doping and are requiring her to stay in Japan to undergo an additional test for performance-enhancing substances,” reported taiwannews.com.

ANI clarifies story was erroneous

On July 30, ANI published another story stating, “Earlier, ANI had reported Zhihui Hou will be tested by anti-doping authorities and if she failed the test, then Chanu stands a chance to be awarded gold. But there has been no testing and it was an inadvertent error while reporting the news.”

Olympic news website Inside The Games published an article that same day debunking the news widespread in Indian media. “A “made-up” story involving weightlifters from China and India has been so widely reported throughout Asia that it has led to claims of athletes from three nations being involved in medal reallocations. The story appears to have emanated from Asian News International, which has 100 bureaus and labels itself “Asia’s premier news agency”,” wrote Inside The Games.

The outlet reported that both the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Testing Agency (ITA) said they knew nothing about the claim. “We do not know where it started but we follow, as always, the strategy to transparently state any developments on our website,” said ITA.

Alt News cross-checked ITA’s website. There is no update on Zhihui Hou’s second anti-doping test.

Furthermore, Inside The Games also cited an official from the Chinese Weightlifting Association who described the Indian report as “made-up”.

While ANI has published a clarification report without taking down its earlier article, no other media outlet has acknowledged the error. The Economic Times reported in its Olympics updates from July 31 that Zhihui will not be taken for a doping test.

Donate to Alt News!
Independent journalism that speaks truth to power and is free of corporate and political control is possible only when people contribute towards the same. Please consider donating in support of this endeavour to fight misinformation and disinformation.

Donate Now

To make an instant donation, click on the "Donate Now" button above. For information regarding donation via Bank Transfer/Cheque/DD, click here.
Tagged:
About the Author

Pooja Chaudhuri is a senior editor at Alt News.