Former national diving team head coach Yu Fen on Monday described as "meaningless" a statement from the sport's governing body refuting her claims to bonuses bestowed on star divers she once trained.
Yu last week threatened legal action in an attempt to retrieve several million yuan she believes she is legally entitled to, arguing that the money has been misappropriated by her replacement as national team director Zhou Jihong.
China's Swimming Administrative Center further infuriated Yu by coming out in support of Zhou on Monday, its first public response to the allegations, by saying there is no evidence to back up her claims.
"The Center distributes the bonuses according to the regulations and proper procedures as well as under the supervision of the disciplinary inspection and supervisory department," read the statement.
"The detailed regulations and procedures were issued on March 14 this year. All the bonuses awarded to the national coaches as well as coaches who helped develop the athletes in local teams or universities, are clear and correct."
Yu however is refusing to drop the issue.
"(Their) statement is meaningless as it did not mention whether those people who replaced me to receive the bonuses did this with my consent or have the correct paper evidence," said Yu, referring to a group of five officials who were supposedly installed to collect the bonuses with her authorization but who are, she claims, nothing more than a smokescreen for the organization's shady dealings.
"Without my consent and the proper paperwork, (Monday's) statement is redundant," added Yu, who helped raise champion divers Guo Jingjing and Wu Mingxia but who now coaches up-and-coming prospects at the prestigious Tsinghua University after she acrimoniously split with the national team in 1997 after the Atlanta Games.
She has now hired a lawyer to deal with the matter, she said.
The saga began several weeks ago with a letter posted online anonymously slamming the sports governing body for financial misconduct. The Center delayed issuing a public defense but now claims that four of the five officials have already returned to Yu all of her rightful bonuses and the final one is verifying the correct amount owed.
Yu says she asked the nation's sports watchdog to investigate her case but it "passed the buck" by referring the matter to the Center.
She said early last week that she has also submitted evidence to relevant authorities to support her claim.
As one of China's most influential diving coaches, Yu has trained four-time Olympic champion Fu and reigning world and Olympic champion Guo. Since leaving the national team she has frequently criticized its "out-of-date training system" and has been engaged in a verbal tug-of-war with Zhou for years.
The most recent previous dispute occurred just prior to the Aug 8-24 Beijing Games as Yu applied to return to the national team but was denied.
She responded by claiming she was heading overseas to coach a rival team but later denied she had said this and publicly bemoaned her "unfair" treatment at the hands of the national diving authorities.
The latest case, which revolves around how divers' bonuses are distributed, has prompted much debate and calls to reform the way the sport's governing bodies are managed.
Acclaimed sports researcher Jin Chan said China's sports governing bodies have too much power. Domestic laws relating to sport are effectively out of date as they have not been revised in over 20 years but change will not come easily, he said.
"The legal rules pertaining to every sport in China are governed and managed by their respective national associations and administrations," he said. "They have absolute power."
Source: China Daily