by Adam Burns
Daily Cougar Staff
The fall of the Soviet Union was supposed to be followed by a total collapse of its Olympic program. The loss of funds and athletes spelled disaster for Soviet Olympic glory, claimed analysts. However, it now appears that China has had the biggest drop-off from previous competitions.
As of Tuesday, Russia was third overall with 11 total medals, but had won seven gold, three more than any other country.
China has three gold out of 10 medals so far, but has done poorly in many events in which it was favored.
Ten medals may sound like a lot for three days of competition, but most of the events that the Chinese are historically strong in, with the notable exception of diving, are well under way.
When medals are handed out for track and field, boxing and the team sports, China may find itself lower in the medal count than it has been in years.
Specifically, a Chinese swim team that was supposed to threaten U.S. dominance of the sport has been left all wet.
Many Chinese athletes expected to win medals have not even made it out of the qualifying rounds. He Cihong, world record holder in the women's 100-meter backstroke, washed out in Monday's preliminaries. The U.S. went on to take the gold and silver in the finals.
Some people have speculated that increased drug testing, due in large part to 19 Chinese athletes testing positive for anabolic steroids since 1990, may have sparked a decrease in the use of performance-enhancing drugs, which may have a lot to do with the sub-par performances.
When University of Houston alumna Michelle Smith won two swimming golds for her native Ireland, she had such stellar improvement in her times that some have speculated the possibility of performance-enhancing drugs.
She has been tested so many times, however, that she could be using any banned substances only if she had a secret identical twin clone taking the tests for her.
It is not just swimming that the Chinese are hurting in, either; China's strongest men's gymnastics team in years fell down more times than the Chevy Chase fan club Monday, handing the Russians the gold medal on a platter.
This did not raise any speculation that the Chinese gymnasts were lacking anything other than concentration, but it still adds to the overall problems of the Chinese national team.
With 15 medals to lead all nations as of Tuesday, it seems like the U.S. is having the greatest benefit from China's misfortune.
Meanwhile, Russia remains a strong contender.
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