Wada launches review into Chinese failed tests

The swimming pool at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
China won six swimming medals at Tokyo 2020 [Getty Images]

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) will launch an independent review after 23 Chinese swimmers were cleared to compete at the Tokyo Olympics despite testing positive for a banned substance.

Wada has said it was "not in a position to disprove" an assertion from the China Anti-Doping Agency (Chinada) that contamination was the source of the heart medication trimetazidine (TMZ) for which the swimmers tested positive.

Findings of the investigation, led by Swiss prosecutor Eric Cottier, are expected to be delivered within two months.

"Wada's integrity and reputation is under attack," said Wada president Witold Banka.

"Wada has been unfairly accused of bias in favour of China by not appealing the Chinada case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

"We continue to reject the false accusations and we are pleased to be able to put these questions into the hands of an experienced, respected and independent prosecutor."

On Friday, Chinada said it will "actively cooperate" with Wada's audit.

United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) chief executive Travis Tygart said Wada and Chinada had "swept these positives under the carpet" - claims Wada described as "completely false and defamatory" while adding that it had referred the comments to its lawyers.

Aquatics GB said it was "extremely concerned" by the allegations about the positive tests, which it said threatened "potential loss of trust and reputational damage to sport".

Wada was notified of Chinada's decision in June 2021, ahead of the delayed Games, and said it had no evidence to challenge China's findings and that external counsel had advised against appealing.

In addition to the independent investigation, Wada said it will send a compliance audit team to assess the state of China's anti-doping programme and invite independent auditors "from the broader anti-doping community" to join the trip.

Usada criticised Wada's latest step on Thursday, calling it a "circle the wagons exercise to protect the system".

Wada director general Olivier Niggli said: "While not one shred of evidence has been presented to support any of the allegations made against Wada, we wish to deal with the matter as quickly and as comprehensively as possible so that the matter is appropriately handled in advance of the upcoming Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games."

Details of the positive tests were revealed by the New York Times, which shared reporting with German broadcaster ARD.

China won six swimming medals at the Tokyo Olympics, including three golds.