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Of course there are also some other issues with the current analysis. In most cases the most current population data is used for analysis here, even though many of the medals were won during earlier Olympics were the population would have been lower. The assumption is that the relative populations between countries is similar over time, but this is probably not always the case. This analysis also assumes an even distribution of medals over time, which is also not correct. Finland may historically be the best performing country per capita, but they may not currently be as successful as they have been in the past.
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.