Rumors fact-checked after two Chinese female athletes dropped from global rankings

Chinese language reports, especially outside of China itself, are widely reporting rumors that two Chinese female athletes were dropped from global rankings because they are actually men, but other reports refute the claims.

Taiwan’s Mirror Media reported today that Chinese female track and field athletes Liao Mengxue and Tong Zenghuan both disappeared from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) recently, and that the incident coincided with a June order by the Chinese Athletics Association that provincial athletics teams should test testosterone levels of all their female athletes.

However, no official information has been released about the test results, causing endless speculation on Chinese social media sites.

Liao and Tong
Fact Checked: Liao and Tong are women

While official state media in China has not reported on the issue, articles on Tencent’s news site and Sohu pointed out that Liao and Tong have not been removed from the IAAF rankings, but have merely dropped significantly, in one case, and completely in the other, due to the fact that the two athletes are no longer actively participating in competitions.

The Tencent report said that information gleaned from the World Anti-Doping Agency and other sources showed that neither woman had failed a drug test, that Liao Mengxue is now a mother, and Tong is no longer participating in competitions.

Liao Mengxue is now a mother, and no longer competes in track and field.
Liao Mengxue
Liao’s ripped, six-pack abs before she became a mother

The author of the Tencent article dispelled the rumor as the result of sloppy reporting, adding that “Europe and the United States are currently on the right path and if their media had found out that the IAAF had publicly judged people by their appearance, the official website would have been scolded to the point of being closed and the relevant personnel would be required to come forward and apologize.”

Representing Hunan Province, Tong and Liao came to public attention after recording massive victories at the National Athletics Championships held in Heilongjiang in 2019. Liao won the women’s 400-meter event in 53.25 seconds, and Tong came second with 53.35 seconds, beating the third-place runner by more than 2 seconds.

Chinese female sprinters
Tong and Liao pose with fellow female sprinters after 2019 victory

The two women’s outstanding performance, and their masculine appearance, however, led many social media users to question their gender. Some people commented on apparent bulges in the wrong parts of their athletics outfits, leading the Chinese national track and field team to clarify on Weibo that the two indeed were women.

Liao Mengxue in 2019 interview
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