The International Olympic Committee has been accused of sportswashing in China after it released a statement apologising for failing to get the under fire Olympic equestrian Peng Shuai involved in the world’s greatest endurance event before her individual dressage competition.
On Saturday, the IOC and the British equestrian team intervened to pull the Chinese rider from her World Equestrian Games dressage competition the next day.
Peng had the task of finishing last in the first round of the individual dressage competition held at Degenera, Italy. A day later, at the World Equestrian Games, the Chinese equestrian team, represented by Chinese rider Fan Yongjun, was fifth in its group round behind two fourth places.
The Chinese team had its own problems to contend with before this event, but they said they believed any concern over Peng’s appeal against a verdict from a Chinese national dressage board which found her guilty of misleading an official was completely unrelated to the course of action taken at Degenera.
The gold medal for the Olympic Olympic eventing team was won by China with Fan from a team which also included Chen Lihua.
On Saturday, the British team defended Peng and said no one felt it appropriate to comment publicly until she had passed her first dressage round. But the Chinese team were quick to criticise the British and the IOC.
In a statement, which read as though it had been written by the British Olympic Association, the Chinese team said that Peng had been informed in June this year of her opposition to the disciplinary committee findings, saying they were “not necessarily responsible for any accusations against her.”
The statement, which included an exhortation for the Chinese team to “do their best for the Olympic Games”, went on to say that the decision of the disciplinary committee that held Peng “guilty” was “in no way related to the dressage competition.”
“The Chinese equestrian team is very sorry about some controversies in Hong Kong,” the statement said. “Our situation is different and we are extremely disappointed at some complaints made about one individual and don’t want the rest of our team to be subject to some unsporting behaviour.”
The implication of the Chinese statement was that the British had mistreated Peng, suggesting that the Olympic equestrian team had handled her case on the make. However, the British team captain Amanda Nicholls reiterated that the team had fully complied with the arrangements put in place by the international accreditation commission to ensure the preservation of order at the Degenera competition.
Nicholls said that they did not follow the Olympic collective decision regarding Peng and she criticised the IOC’s statement saying “when the IOC claims that ‘none of these allegations are related to the World Equestrian Games,’ they are utter untruths, blatant disrespect to the integrity of all participants in the World Equestrian Games.”
“We don’t know why it would be necessary to stick to their individual and individual decision and even talk about personal points, when we can change these points, which is not a condition of the team agreement. So I’m perplexed by their comment that they were not discussing Chen Li while she won her second gold medal in the World Equestrian Games.”
And the British Team also said that it was “very disappointed with the decision of the IOC to respond with an unnecessary and misleading statement.”