Athletes Losing Faith in Anti-Doping Agency

( – Two Olympic gold medalists testified before a House subcommittee last Tuesday night where they criticized the World Anti-Doping Agency for inconsistently applying the rules on banned substances.

Gold medalists Michael Phelps and Allison Schmitt were called to testify in a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on oversight and investigation, along with US Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart.

The hearing was prompted by the recent revelation that 23 members of China’s swim team tested positive for the banned substance TMZ seven months before the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics but none were barred from competing.

The Chinese team went on to medal in several events, even winning three gold.

China’s anti-doping agency claimed at the time that the swimmers accidentally ingested food containing TMZ – an excuse the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accepted, clearing the way for the swimmers to compete in Tokyo.

The Chinese Swimming Association announced the roster for the upcoming Paris Games on June 18, and 11 of the 23 swimmers will be competing.

Schmitt competed against the Chinese swimmers in the Tokyo Summer Games, where the US came in second to China in the 800-meter freestyle relay. She told lawmakers that the US team “trained hard” and “followed every protocol,” and had accepted their defeat “with grace.” However, she added that many of the US swimmers would be “haunted” about a race that “may have been impacted by doping.”

Phelps, who has won more Olympic medals than any other swimmer in history, expressed frustration that nothing had changed at WADA since he last testified before the same subcommittee in 2017 over WADA’s handling of Russian doping.

Phelps told the lawmakers that it was clear that WADA’s attempts to reform “have fallen short.” He said the agency was plagued by “deeply rooted, systemic problems” that have hurt the integrity of international athletics and “fair competition.”

The subcommittee also invited WADA President Witold Banka to testify in last Tuesday’s hearing. However, Banka declined.

Instead, he submitted a statement dismissing the claims “from some in the U.S.” that WADA “acted inappropriately” or was biased toward China. He insisted that there was “no evidence to support that theory,” which he blamed on the “tense relationship” between Washington and Beijing.

Banka chided lawmakers over the hearing, saying that it was inappropriate to politicize anti-doping.

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