Ex-Google China Head Apologizes After Olympic Row

One of the most-followed users of China’s Twitter-like microblogging service Sina Weibo has apologised after sparking an Olympic row.

China swimmer Sun Yang dives off of the starting block during the 400-meter freestyle event during the 2012 Summer Olympics at the Aquatics Centre in London on Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Al Bello, Pool)

Ex-Google China head Kaifu Lee posted contact details of a US swimming coach who had cast doubt on a Chinese Olympic swimmer’s record-breaking performance.

It was made available to Mr Lee’s 15 million followers.

Mr Lee has since deleted the post, but only after it had been retweeted more than 14,000 times.

Mr Lee said John Leonard’s contact information, which included home and work addresses, phone numbers and an email address, was in the public domain.

The story echoes the suspension of British journalist Guy Adams’s Twitter account after he criticised NBCUniversal’s coverage of the Olympic Games and posted the email address of one of its executives.

His account was restored after the microblog’s users complained about the suspension.

‘Relentless attacks’

In his original post, written in Chinese on Tuesday, Mr Lee wrote that he had “read a couple dozen of articles on Ye Shiwen”.

“All basically just relentless attacks from John Leonard. He’s the head of the US swimming coaching association and is not even affiliated with the US Olympic team,” he added.

“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 civilised and factual approach.”

The post was picked up by Twitter users as well, many of whom criticised it.

Independent analyst Bill Bishop, based in China, tweeted: “Leonard is way out of line with his comments about Ye Shiwen, but what ex-Google China head Kaifu Lee just did is appalling”.

Another user @fryan said that among many comments written in reaction to Mr Lee’s post there were some “urging others to bombard his email, hack his computer and at least one comment saying he should be killed”.

After deleting the post, he issued an apology, published on Pando Daily website.

“This morning, I read John Leonard’s unfair accusations about Ye Shiwen and felt outraged,” Mr Lee wrote.

“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 civilised 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.”

Ye, 16, won gold and beat her personal best by at least five seconds in the 400m Medley.

But Mr Leonard found her performance disturbing.

“History in our sport will tell you that every time we see something, and I will put quotation marks around this, ‘unbelievable’ history shows us that it turns out later on there was doping involved,” he told the UK’s Guardian newspaper.

Ye denied the accusations. She was later defended by British Olympic Association chairman Lord Colin Moynihan, who said she had passed drug tests, was “clean” and deserved recognition for her talent.

This article originally appeared on BBC News and was republished with permission.