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Several Chinese swimmers embroiled in doping scandal selected for Paris Olympics: report

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As the 2024 Paris Olympics nears, countries from across the world have begun announcing their final rosters across a variety of sports.

The Chinese Swimming Association released its roster on Tuesday. But the roster raised some eyebrows as 11 of the 31 swimmers named were already under fire after testing positive for the banned heart medication trimetazidine in 2021, NBC reported. 

However, the World-Anti Doping (WADA) ultimately cleared the athletes for competition at the Tokyo Olympics. 

WADA said the swimmers’ positive tests were at least partially due to inadvertently being exposed to the substance through contamination.” The Chinese Doping Agency initially made a similar argument to which WADA said it was “not in a position to disprove.”  

However, the decision did spark some backlash, with United States Anti-Doping Agency officials suggesting that WADA was possibly involved in an alleged cover-up scheme.

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WADA denied those assertions, describing the idea as “completely false and defamatory.”

“(WADA) is astonished by the outrageous, completely false and defamatory remarks made by the CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), Travis Tygart, who has made very serious accusations against WADA in connection with the case of 23 swimmers from China,” WADA said in a news release in April.

Tygart told BBC Sport that there was a push for “independent prosecution of these previously hidden positive tests.”

Paris Olympics flag on monument

“This is the train-wreck we were worried about and it’s exactly why we called for a real, independent prosecution of these previously hidden positive tests, especially given that the statute of limitations hasn’t run out”, he said.

“All athletes deserve to know that it’s a fair and just outcome for these Chinese athletes to be at the Paris Games competing against other athletes who have been held to the strictest standards.”

Paris 2024 seen

WADA did launch an independent review of the case, but the findings have yet to be released.

In June, seven-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Katie Ledecky expressed her belief that trust in the anti-doping system was at an “all-time low” on the heels of the doping scandal. The American superstar swimmer added that the controversy had the potential to cast a shadow over the Summer Games. 

“It’s hard going into Paris knowing that we’re going to be racing some of these athletes,” Ledecky said.

Just under two months ago, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach backed WADA, saying he had “full confidence” in the organization. He also expressed his belief that if the swimmers received clearance, they should be allowed to compete in Paris.

“If the procedures are followed, there is no reason for them not to be there,” Bach told news agency AFP.

This week, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry said the country has “consistently adhered to the firm stance of zero tolerance for doping” while also placing safeguards around “fair competition in sports competitions.”

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