Handling of Chinese swimmers' doping case sparks backlash ahead of Olympics


Chinese swimmers who tested positive for the banned substance trimetazidine (TMZ) before the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 have been cleared to compete in the Paris Olympics this year, prompting criticism from anti-doping bodies.

Key points:

  • Last month, the New York Times and German broadcaster ARD revealed that 13 out of the 23 swimmers were absolved of wrongdoing after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accepted China's explanation of mass contamination.

  • The 13 athletes will return to the Games in Paris this summer. The decision has sparked criticism from various quarters, including athletes, domestic sports federations and national anti-doping bodies.

  • Due to mounting pressure, WADA has appointed a prosecutor to investigate the matter. The controversy underscores concerns about doping practices and the integrity of anti-doping regulations in international sports competitions.

The details:

  • The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) criticized WADA for its handling of the case involving the Chinese swimmers. USADA disputed WADA's stance, alleging coordinated intentional doping and accusing them of failing clean athletes.

  • “The doubling down on half-truths and self-serving rationalizations for failing to enforce its own rules is deeply concerning,” USADA said. “Those who value fair play remain completely unsatisfied by the answers being provided by WADA regarding its sweeping of 23 positive tests under the carpet.”

  • Top U.S. anti-doping regulator Travis Tygart has also voiced concerns about the integrity of the Paris 2024 Olympics. “Because of the cover-up that happened by China, and WADA allowing it, now that it’s come to light it’s going to be a train wreck waiting to happen going into Paris,” Tygart told Politico.

  • Among the qualified swimmers are Wang Shun and Zhang Yufei, who both won gold medals in Tokyo.

  • The controversy has sparked a debate over sports governance and raised questions about the influence of China in the Olympic movement. Despite the ongoing investigation, the 13 swimmers are expected to compete in Paris unless evidence of intentional doping emerges.

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