With the Olympic Games less than two months away, the Chinese government has taken steps to clean up its pharmaceutical industry, which the United States claims has been a source for much of the world's performance enhancing drugs production. The Chinese authorities revoked manufacturing licenses for three companies and punished 125 more for producing, selling or distributing banned drugs.
According to a statement by the Chinese news agency Xinhua, most of the businesses which were punished were retail pharmacies, but did not list the names of the companies. Officials also said one person had been imprisoned for illegally distributing drugs.
China was named as one of the sources of the illegal drugs netted during the Operación Puerto raid of 2006. The deputy commissioner of the Chinese State Food and Drug Administration, Wu Zhen, said that its country has been aggressive on anti-doping, especially since the second half of 2007. "We are determined to take the opportunity of the Olympic Games to reduce doping in China," he said.
The commissioner added that his agency's investigations had uncovered 151 enterprises involved in producing or distributing banned drugs such as anabolic steroids, Erythropoietin (EPO) or human growth hormone (HGH).
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration identified China as a major source of raw materials used to produce steroids, but the Chinese official denied that it was doing anything illegal. "If China's ingredients were used to produce performance-enhancing drugs and illegally sold after being legally exported, the importing countries should bear the responsibility," Wu said. "Most of such products were exported with company contracts, export licenses and warrants from the importing countries, and their use was clearly stated."