The World Anti-Doping Agency is looking into allegations made by a German broadcaster that Chinese athletes benefited from systematic doping in the 1980s and 90s.
"The allegations were brought forward by former Chinese [Olympic team] doctor, Xue Yinxian, who is said to have looked after several national teams in China during the decades in question," WADA said Monday.
Xue, who recently arrived in Germany and is seeking political asylum with her son, told broadcaster ARD that more than 10,000 athletes were affected, some as young as 11, and that anyone who was against doping was considered "a danger to the country. And anyone who endangered the country is now in prison."
The 79-year-old Xue said she lost her job with the national gymnastics team after refusing to treat an athlete with doping substances before the 1988 Seoul Olympics. She said she had not felt safe in her home city of Beijing since 2012, when she first made her allegations of doping. She first started working with China's national teams in the 1970s.
"In the 1980s and 90s, Chinese athletes on the national teams made extensive use of doping substances," she told ARD. "Medals were showered in doping. Gold, silver and bronze. All international medals should be withdrawn."
WADA said it will examine "whether such a system may have prevailed beyond these decades."
The first step, WADA said, was for its "independent intelligence and investigations team to initiate an investigative process in order to collect and analyze available information in coordination with external partners."
Xue, who continued to work at lower levels after being dismissed from the national team in 1988, said she was only approached afterward when athletes developed problems because of the substances they were given.
"One trainer came to me and said, `Doctor Xue, the boys' breasts keep getting bigger,"' Xue said. "These boys were about 13 to 14 years old."