Michael Phelps calls for reform of the World Anti-Doping Agency

WASHINGTON-. The icons of American swimming Michael Phelpsthe most successful Olympian, and Allison Schmitt called Tuesday for reform of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Following his handling of the scandal doping of Chinese swimmers in 2021.

Phelps and Schmitt, a four-time Olympic champion, spoke during an appearance before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the US Congress, held this Tuesday in Washington.

Both sports figures, along with the executive director of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Travis Tygart, took aim at WADA for the recent revelations that 23 Chinese swimmers tested positive in 2021 for trimetazidine (TMZ), a drug for forbidden heart since 2014.

The athletes, some of whom competed and won medals at the Tokyo Games in 2021, were not suspended or sanctioned as WADA accepted the Chinese authorities’ explanations that the results were the result of food contamination in a hotel.

Last week the New York Times announced that three of those swimmers – including two Tokyo gold medalists and a world record holder – had already tested positive for banned substances several years earlier.

WADA has defended itself against the accusations of cover-up and China also denied any irregularity in this matter, which exploded in the run-up to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, which will be held from July 26 to August 11.

In their testimonies, Phelps and Schmitt criticized WADA’s handling of the case and claimed that the scandal had damaged athletes’ trust in the global anti-doping watchdog.

Phelps, winner of a record 23 Olympic gold medals, compared the current situation to that of 2017, when he called for changes in WADA at a hearing before US lawmakers over the Russian doping scandal three years earlier.

“It is clear to me that any attempt at WADA reform has fallen short, and that there remain deep-rooted systemic problems that undermine the integrity of the WADA. sport and the right of athletes to fair competition, time and time again,” Phelps said.

“I urge Congress to use its considerable influence over WADA to make the organization independent and effective,” he demanded.

“Doping rumours”

Phelps said “close friends” had been potentially affected by the decision to allow Chinese swimmers to compete in Tokyo.

“Many of them will live with ‘what if’ for the rest of their lives,” Phelps said. “As athletes, our faith can no longer be blindly placed in the World Anti-Doping Agency, an organization that continually demonstrates that it is unable or unwilling to enforce its policies consistently around the world.”

Schmitt, 34, was part of the U.S. 4x200m freestyle relay team that finished second in Tokyo behind China.

That test was among the five in which some of the Chinese swimmers who tested positive for TMZ won medals.

Schmitt explained that although he had heard “rumors of doping by the Chinese team” throughout his career, he initially had no reason to doubt the legitimacy of China’s 4x200m gold in Tokyo.

“We respect their performance and accept our defeat,” he said. “But now, knowing that the Chinese relay was made up of athletes who had not served a suspension, I look back with doubts.”

“I ask, on behalf of American athletes, that WADA and the global anti-doping system be held accountable. If we win, it is because we earned it. And if we lose, it is because the competition was fair,” he claimed.