Olympic Gold Medalists No Longer Trust The World Anti-Doping Agency

  • China allowed swimmers who tested positive for banned substances to compete in the Tokyo Olympics.
  • The country failed to disclose the positive test results.
  • An international doping agency took no action.
  • US Olympic swimmers are now speaking out.

(NewsReady.com) – Multiple Chinese swimmers tested positive for banned substances before the Tokyo Olympics. Several of them went on to compete and win medals. American gold medalists recently testified before Congress about the scandal and expressed distrust in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The Scandal

In 2021, ahead of the Olympics, 23 Chinese swimmers tested positive for drugs. Almost half of the swimming team sent to Tokyo to compete in the games were among those who had banned substances in their system. Several of those athletes placed, including winning three gold medals.

The New York Times investigated the doping scandal, reporting the Chinese government’s antidoping regulator said the swimmer ingested small amounts of a banned substance unwittingly. The regulator refused to punish the swimmers and allowed them to compete in the Olympics.

Worse, the Chinese regulator didn’t publicly acknowledge the scandal. Officials from other countries repeatedly sent WADA information showing that China was covering up a doping scandal. The international regulator claimed there was “a lack of any credible evidence” that would allow it to challenge Chinese officials.

The FBI reportedly learned about the scandal sometime in 2023 and started investigating. The agency hasn’t confirmed the reports but under a 2020 law, the Department of Justice was given powers to prosecute attempts to corrupt international sports. Under the law, it doesn’t matter where the alleged crime took place.

Eleven of the swimmers who tested positive are set to compete in Paris in July.

Congressional Investigation

On June 26, swimmers Allison Schmitt and Michael Phelps testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation. Phelps, the most decorated athlete in Olympic history, said athletes have lost faith in WADA.

The 23-time Olympic gold medalist accused the international doping agency of “succumb[ing] to the pressures of international sport.” He said that some of his close friends may have been impacted by WADA’s “failure to follow its own rules,” and now those friends “will live with the ‘what ifs’ for the rest of their lives.”

Schmitt was one of the athletes who was potentially impacted by the scandal. The four-time gold medalist was part of the US 4×200-meter freestyle relay team in Tokyo and lost first place to the Chinese team. She told lawmakers that her team “raced hard” and “trained hard.” They followed all of the rules, respected the Chinese team’s win, and accepted their defeat.

Schmitt says she now knows the opposing team included swimmers who’d tested positive for banned substances and were never punished. She explained that she looks “back with doubt” and knows she might not “ever know the truth, and that may haunt many of [Team USA’s swimmers] for years.”

The US is the primary funder of WADA. US Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart told members of Congress that America should condition future funds on agency reforms.

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