In the affair surrounding numerous positive doping tests among top Chinese swimmers and how they are dealt with, anger and incomprehension are growing among athletes.

“The latest revelations threaten to make clean athletes completely resign,” said Maximilian Klein, director of sports policy at the German Athletes Association. “Shortly before the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the credibility crisis in world sport and the fight against doping is worsening again.”

Athletes Germany demanded that the World Anti-Doping Agency answer a comprehensive list of questions – and explicitly “with independent support”. Trust in Wada has been shaken.

WADA sees it differently. Its president, Witold Banka, said at a press conference on Monday: “No credible evidence of wrongdoing has been presented.” The Pole continued: “We would do exactly the same thing if we had to do it again now.”

Wada: No new investigations

Travis Tygart, head of the US Anti-Doping Agency, accused the world authority and China of sweeping the positive tests under the carpet. WADA defended its decision not to impose sanctions. “The agency remains committed to the results of its scientific investigation and the legal decisions in this case,” the agency said on Monday night. All allegations in the matter have been examined, but there is not enough evidence to initiate new investigations.

Media reports had previously raised doubts about the role of Wada and the Chinese Anti-Doping Agency in the fight against sports fraud. According to research by the ARD doping editorial team and the “New York Times” as well as a report by the Australian newspaper “Daily Telegraph”, 23 top swimmers tested positive for the banned heart drug trimetazidine at a national competition in China at the beginning of 2021.

Nada should deal with the issue

DOSB President Thomas Weikert called the allegations made in the report “disturbing” on Monday. The supervisory board of the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA) should deal with the issue at its next meeting, Weikert wrote on the online platform X, formerly Twitter.

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Monday in Beijing that the People’s Republic had always strictly adhered to the WADA regulations, protected the physical and mental health of its athletes and upheld fair competition in sporting competitions. At the Tokyo Olympics in July and August 2021, the 30-member Chinese team won six medals, including three golds.

Fear of a “slap in the face of all clean athletes”

After examining the ARD documentation, WADA itself reassured that there was no reason to attack the Chinese authorities’ findings. They had determined that the positive doping tests were due to contamination in a hotel kitchen. Therefore, the swimmers went unpunished.

Léa Krüger, member of the executive committee at Athletes Germany, expressed how critically other athletes view the case. “If the suspected cases turn out to be correct, Wada’s apparently negligent actions would be a slap in the face to all clean athletes: They stick to the rules. They accept the reversal of the burden of proof as a mainstay of the anti-doping fight and of course they accept the strain of the global doping control regime,” she said.