he Chinese Athletic Association has been forced to publicly confirm the gender of a pair of female runners after netizens raised questions over their appearance.
Liao Mengxue and Tong Zenghuan placed first and second in the National Track and Field Championships last week in the Heilongjiang city of Daqing. Liao finished with a time of 53.25 seconds while Tong was close behind at 53.35 seconds.
After images and clips from the race hit the Chinese internet, a number of net users cried foul, charging that the pair were actually men masquerading as women, also pointing toward videos of them speaking to help prove their point.
Similar questions were raised last month when Liao and Tong were part of a team from Hunan province that won the women’s 4×400 relay event at the annual National Athletics Championships in Shenyang.
Following official assurances that the two runners are female, netizens have charged that Liao and Tong must be using performance-enhancing drugs. The pair have yet to comment on the controversy.