If Liu and the other Chinese weightlifters are stripped of their Beijing gold medals, the question remains: Did they have any choice in any doping? Liu, who was originally selected as a judo athlete, has toiled in the state sports system since she was a little girl. (Four years ago, she was receiving less than $10,000 in annual salary for her record-breaking contributions to the state.) Eight years ago, I visited a shabby sports school in eastern Shandong province where young weightlifters spent the days in a clanging gym in lieu of primary school. After training, the kids, with their callused and chalk-stained hands, walked up to a table lined with paper cups. Each cup held a few pills, which they swallowed, one after the other, with gulps of warm water.
Technically speaking, BALCO is extinct, but Victor Conte is a free man and still running a business called "Scientific Nutrition for Advanced Conditioning" or "SNAC." After serving a four-month prison sentence prior to pleading guilty in 2005, he now sells various supplements and vitamins. Patrick Arnold and Greg Anderson each served a three-month jail sentence after pleading guilty with Anderson serving an additional three-month house arrest sentence. Recently Anderson was incarcerated again after being found in contempt of court for refusing to testify about Barry Bonds and Gary Sheffield’s use of banned steroids.  BALCO is not completely dead however; on the SNAC website, Conte has BALCO apparel for sale. 
There should be, at this stage, real concern about the ability or will of President Xi, Premier Li and their policymakers to undertake the fundamental reconstruction of the Chinese growth model necessary to avoid a Japan-style economic crisis. The Merrill study just provides more evidence that China is repeating the same mistakes and suffers from the same flaws of other economies that experienced financial crises. There will always be businessmen and economists who dismiss or downplay such concerns. These “panda huggers” argue that China is “different” and isn’t vulnerable to the same problems as other economies — that somehow the laws of economics don’t apply. But remember, that’s what experts used to say about Japan too.