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Doping-WADA Fires Back At Critics Over Chinese Swimming Scandal – News18

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The World AntiDoping Agency (WADA) was in full damage control mode on Monday, firing back at criticism over its handling of 23 positive tests from Chinese swimmers that the head of the United States AntiDoping Agency (USADA) called a potential coverup.

TORONTO: The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was in full damage control mode on Monday, firing back at criticism over its handling of 23 positive tests from Chinese swimmers that the head of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) called a potential cover-up.

WADA confirmed a New York Times report on Saturday that Chinese swimmers had tested positive for trimetazidine (TMZ), which is found in heart medication, months before the COVID-delayed Tokyo Olympics began in July 2021. The findings sparked outrage across the sport and among anti-doping crusaders.

In a show of unity, WADA forcefully responded to the attacks during a nearly two hour Zoom call with the media that featured leaders from the agency’s science and legal affairs department, investigative unit and president Witold Banka, who said the global anti-doping body stood by its decisions and given circumstances and evidence would do the same again.

“At every stage WADA followed all due processes and investigated every lead and line of inquiry in this matter,” said Banka. “If we had to do it over again we would do exactly do the same thing.

“We carefully reviewed the decision of the Chinese anti-doping organisation (CHINADA) from every perspective, we interrogated every piece of evidence and gathered further information.

“In this particular case we followed the process and we don’t see room for improvement when it comes to this particular process what we decided.”

WADA said it was notified in June 2021 of CHINADA’s decision to accept that the swimmers returned adverse analytical findings, or AAFs, after inadvertently being exposed to the drug through contamination.

The global anti-doping body took the opportunity on Monday to go through the case outlining in detail how it consulted scientific experts and external legal counsel to test the contamination theory presented by CHINADA.

The Chinese report determined that all the swimmers that tested positive were staying at the same hotel where traces of TMZ were found in the kitchen, the extraction unit above the hall and drainage units.

All the results were consistently low and fluctuating negative and positive.

Fluctuating negative and positive results were determined not to be compatible with deliberate ingestion or micro-dosing.

CHINADA ruled the positive tests were the result of environmental food contamination and decided not to move forward notifying WADA of the decision.

The case file was made available to the WADA science department which determined the contamination scenario was not only plausible but that there was no concrete element to call it into question.

Legal experts who were consulted agreed an appeal to CAS was not warranted.

Asked why there was no provisional suspension, WADA reminded that under the Code it has no authority to do so.

World Aquatics, the sport’s global body formerly known as FINA, said it was confident the positive tests were handled “diligently and professionally” while the International Testing Agency (ITA) confirmed on Monday that it was not aware of any cover-up.

“For the sake of clarity and transparency, it is pointed out that since the CHINADA decision in 2021, the ITA has not come across any reliable evidence that would suggest that a cover-up or a manipulation of the anti-doping process took place,” ITA said in a statement.

While detailed and thorough in its explanations WADA’s answers are unlikely to sway critics, who question how the body can so easily accept the findings of an investigation conducted internally by China, a country had has a tainted history when it comes to doping, particularly in the pool.

USADA chief Travis Tygart for one is not satisfied and wants those burying positive tests to be, “held accountable to the fullest extent of the rules and law”.

WADA has responded by threatening legal action for anyone accusing it of a cover-up.

“What is clear is that some comments that have been made which suggested a cover-up of doping cases for political reasons couldn’t be further from the truth,” said Ross Wenzel, WADA general counsel.

“They clearly have the potential to damage WADA’s reputation therefore it is something we will have to go through with a fine toothed comb and take whatever action is necessary.”

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – Reuters)

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