John Leonard, the top US swim official who said he suspected 16-year-old Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen of doping earlier this week, has already seen a big backlash from China (there’s even resulted in accusations that Michael Phelps had been doping).
The backlash has turned personal. According to TechInAsia, a message was posted to Weibo earlier this week that contained Leonard’s personal details, and it quickly went viral.
Here’s a screen-grab of the message:
A translation of the text, via CNET:
All the official organisations have now confirmed Ye Shiwen was clean. John Leonard should apologise. Below are his background and contact details. If you want to contact him, I suggest using civilized and factual approach.
The incident is especially damaging as the person who first posted the image is Li Kaifu (aka Kaifu Lee), who formerly ran Microsoft and Google in China and is one of the most important people in China’s booming tech industry (NOTE: as some readers have pointed out, Li is a Taiwanese-born US citizen).
Li deleted the post soon after it went up but given that he has 15 million followers, it’s impact was widespread. Li also posted ominously about Leonard’s criminal past, saying he has four crimes on public records, and “two of which are not for speeding.”
In a statement sent to PandoDaily Li has apologized:
This morning, I read John Leonard’s unfair accusations about Ye Shiwen and felt outraged. So I found his public contact information, and sent him an email message asking him to apologise. Then, I wrote a Weibo post, asking other netizens to send fact-based and civilized emails to him as well. I also attached his other contact information in this post.
I apologise for the inappropriateness of my actions, and any inconveniences this may have caused John. At the same time, I sincerely hope that John would also consider an apology to Ye Shiwen.
Observers worry about the implications of such a major personality playing into a widening rift between China and the US. “So depressing,” Bill Bishop of the Sinocism blog wrote today. “Kaifu Lee has been a great bridge between China and the US”.
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