Chinese Swimmers’ Doping Scandal Before Tokyo Olympics


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Twenty-three top Chinese swimmers tested positive for a powerful banned substance seven months before the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021. Despite this, they were allowed to continue competing after being cleared by top Chinese officials.

Several of the athletes who tested positive, including nearly half of China’s swimming team at the Tokyo Games, went on to win medals, including three golds. Many of them are still competing for China and are expected to participate in the upcoming Summer Games in Paris.

Controversy Surrounding the Positive Tests

While China claimed the swimmers ingested the banned substance unknowingly and in tiny amounts, experts and American officials suggested that they should have been suspended or publicly identified for further investigation. The failure to do so raised concerns among various antidoping authorities.

  • Despite evidence suggesting a cover-up and doping by Chinese swimmers, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) chose not to take action, citing a lack of credible evidence to challenge China’s version of events.
  • Even an email exchange between a Chinese antidoping official and a top world swimming official hinted at a possible violation, but no public accountability was pursued at the time.

WADA defended its decision not to intervene, dismissing the criticism as unsubstantiated. The handling of the situation has sparked debate within the antidoping community regarding transparency and accountability in such cases.

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