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April 23, 2024

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Chinese swimmer doping reports decried as ‘fake news’

China yesterday called reports about 23 Chinese swimmers testing positive for a banned substance ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 “fake news.”

A group of Chinese swimmers tested positive for TMZ in early 2021 after inadvertently being exposed to the substance through contamination. The World Anti-Doping Agency reviewed this case thoroughly in June and July 2021, and concluded that there was no concrete basis to challenge the asserted contamination.

Following some misleading and potentially defamatory media coverage this week, WADA provided information to clarify and reserved its right to take legal action as appropriate.  

China’s foreign ministry yesterday hit back at the widespread reports, which first emerged in the New York Times and German broadcaster ARD on Saturday. “The relevant reports are fake news and not factual,” said ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin.

WADA has said there was “a lack of any credible evidence” to challenge China’s version of events.

“I believe you will also have noted that the World Anti-Doping Agency has put out a very clear response,” Wang said, adding that China’s anti-doping center conducted an “in-depth and detailed” probe, which found the athletes had ingested contaminated drugs “without their knowledge.” 

“The Chinese swimmers involved were neither at fault nor guilty of negligence, and their behavior did not constitute a doping violation,” he told a regular press conference.

“After an investigation, WADA affirmed the findings of the China anti-doping center.”

An Australian coach who works with the Chinese Swimming Association also rejected claims of systemic state-run doping, saying it is “so far from anything I have seen.”

Denis Cotterell, who has coached swimmer Sun Yang, told The Sydney Morning Herald he disputed “any suggestion of anything orchestrated.”

The 74-year-old has had an on-off association with Chinese swimming for over a decade and said he was speaking from first-hand experience.

“I see what they (the swimmers) go through, I see the measures, I can tell you the stories. I know the facts and I am comfortable,” he told the paper. 

“The suggestion that it’s systemic is so far from anything I have seen here the whole time.”

ARD aired a documentary on the subject on Sunday, with the Montreal-based WADA issuing a fresh statement afterwards. “The agency still stands firmly by the results of its scientific investigation and legal decision concerning the case,” it said.

Wang said the Chinese government “consistently upholds a resolutely zero-tolerance position when it comes to doping,” adding China upholds “fair competition” in sport.


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