World Anti-Doping Agency 'disappointed' at US investigation into Chinese doping case


MONTREAL — The World Anti-Doping Agency says it is “disappointed” to learn of a U.S. criminal investigation into the case of 23 Chinese swimmers who were allowed to continue competing despite testing positive for a banned substance in 2021.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that U.S. investigators had launched a probe into the case and ordered a top official of the international swimming federation to testify as a witness.

It could become the highest-profile use so far of a U.S. federal law passed in 2020 that allows investigations into suspected doping conspiracies even if they occurred outside the United States.

“The World Anti-Doping Agency is disappointed to learn that the U.S. Department of Justice is now investigating the 2021 contamination case of 23 swimmers in China,” WADA said in a statement. “At this time, WADA has not received any contact or request from U.S. law enforcement.”

A U.S. House Committee on China had asked the Justice Department and the FBI on May 21 to investigate the case under the 2020 Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act, named for a whistleblower who exposed Russian state-backed doping.

WADA said the reports about the investigation “validate the concerns expressed broadly by the international community” about the Rodchenkov law.

WADA has previously criticized the law, warning of the risk of overreach from the “extraterritorial” jurisdiction the law would give to U.S. federal agencies. The International Olympic Committee has also voiced concerns.

The 23 Chinese swimmers tested positive for a banned heart medication in January 2021 yet were allowed to continue competing. Some of them won medals at the Tokyo Olympics later that year. Eleven of them are part of the Chinese swimming team heading to the Paris Olympics.

Chinese anti-doping authorities blamed the positive tests on food contamination, saying traces of the substance were found in the kitchen of a hotel where the team stayed.

WADA accepted the theory and has repeatedly defended its handling of the case, which was only made public this year through reporting by the New York Times and German broadcaster ARD.

“WADA reviewed the Chinese swimmer case file diligently, consulted with scientific and legal experts, and ultimately determined that it was in no position to challenge the contamination scenario, such that an appeal was not warranted,” the agency said in the statement. “Guided by science and expert consultations, we stand by that good-faith determination in the face of the incomplete and misleading news reports on which this investigation appears to be based.”

The international swimming federation, World Aquatics, confirmed to the AP on Thursday that its executive director, Brent Nowicki, was subpoenaed to testify in the U.S. investigation.

“He is working to schedule a meeting with the government, which, in all likelihood will obviate the need for testimony before a Grand Jury,” World Aquatics said in a statement.

Asked for comment, the FBI said it “does not confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation” as per standard practice.

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AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games



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