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China says company in Greek doping case 'not approved' to make drugs

BEIJING -- A Chinese company blamed by
the Greek weightlifting team for providing tainted supplements
was not approved to produce drugs, state media reported on
Tuesday.

China is investigating Greek claims that a mix-up at
Shanghai-based drug maker Auspure Biotechnology Co Ltd. led to
banned ingredients being added to dietary supplements that were
supplied to the national team for months.

Chinese investigators had found that Auspure was neither
registered nor approved as a drug producer, the China Daily
said citing Yan Jiangying, a spokeswoman with China's drug
watchdog the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA).

Greek weightlifting officials last week linked the tainted
goods to the 11 athletes' positive tests and said the Chinese
company had sent an e-mail apologizing for the mix-up. An
employee at Auspure told Reuters the company was being
investigated.

Yan confirmed that Auspure had sent an apology letter to
Greek officials, but allegations that the company had
accidentally included "toxic and cancer-causing supplements in
the supplements [had] not been substantiated," the paper quoted
her as saying.

Greek police have asked Interpol to help shed light on the
doping case, which has seen national weightlifting coach
Christos Iakovou suspended and could lead to the team being
expelled from the Beijing Olympics in August.

Greece's weightlifting federation has blamed the coach for
ordering the supplements "on his own initiative."

Bian Zhejia, director of the SFDA's drug safety supervision
department, said the deal involving Auspure supplying
supplements to the Greek team had been "made over the
Internet."

"The two parties had never met before," the paper quoted
Bian as saying.

In the wake of the Greek scandal, China's Health Ministry
has ordered doctors to check whether patients are athletes
before they prescribe drugs that contain banned substances,
Xinhua news agency said in a separate report.

Doctors would have to write athletes' identities on the
prescriptions and clearly mark them as "dope-containing
medicines," Xinhua said, citing a health ministry notice.

Inspectors would also be posted to drug makers "authorized
to make products that contain controlled substances," to vet
their product from May 1, the agency said.