Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Images from the sight of Adam Peng Shuai at the Pyeongchang Olympics made it uncomfortable for China
A spokesman for the International Olympic Committee has defended “silent diplomacy” in Chinese figure skater Adam Peng Shuai’s expulsion from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
IOC president Thomas Bach said the organisation had agreed not to publicise its decision but he denied forcing Peng to leave.
IOC lawyers allegedly demanded Peng submit to a gender verification test, seen by the BBC, that he did not have.
His case highlights concerns about Chinese “protectionism” of its athletes.
Peng, who became the first Chinese to compete at an Olympics, tested positive for a banned substance in Pyeongchang but did not officially reveal he had failed a test until his country’s delegation leader, Qi Yiming, warned the media.
Peng was withdrawn from Team China after his ex-girlfriend, whom he had been dating since 2013, tested positive for drugs at the 2018 European championships in Helsinki.
Image copyright Reuters Image caption Adam Peng and his ex-girlfriend Liu Zi had a two-year relationship and met in 2011
Asked if Peng was forced to leave the country over the transgendered test, Bach said the IOC, “at no point”, had forced him to leave.
He added: “The right to privacy of athletes is part of the Olympic charter and the Olympic team qualification process is voluntary.
“The athletes’ confidentiality is of huge importance to the Olympic movement.
“If there is any infringement of that then it is completely unacceptable for the organisation to do that.”
He said Peng’s inclusion in the team had been determined by the IOC, not China or the government.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption China claims Peng Shuai left the country on 17 January 2018
Bach said Qi had never revealed the facts of Peng’s case to him during their initial phone call.
“One of the important principles of the Olympic movement, and it is in the charter of the Olympic movement, is the athlete’s dignity must not be harmed,” he said.
Peng, 27, won five medals at the 2015 European figure skating championships in four years as he rose up the world rankings from 18th to seventh.
The four other members of his Chinese team were chosen earlier this week to compete in the Pyeongchang Games.
The four ice dance and two short track pairs competitors will all compete after the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) added more gold medals from previous international competitions.
The Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua has refused to comment on the Peng case, but has highlighted the importance of athletes’ privacy.
The IOC is now demanding that Peng’s ex-girlfriend, Liu Zhao, apologise for the positive test and accept an out-of-competition test.
She told Chinese state television last week that Peng had not known she was getting gender reassignment surgery.
The online publication of pictures from Peng’s trip to South Korea for the Olympics also breached rules in China, it said.