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Δευτέρα, 24 Ιουνίου, 2024

China swimmers doping scandal out in the open

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That China has consciously used its financial clout to influence international organizations in its favour is a well-known fact. That this has happened in the case of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) should not therefore come as a surprise! This is precisely what has occurred in the case of the Chinese cover up of the positive doping tests of Chinese Olympic swimmers in 2021 and now attempts are being made to send them to participate in the forthcoming Olympic Games in Paris. While the WADA was informed at the time, the news wasn’t publicly released and the athletes weren’t punished. The WADA recently cleared the banned swimmers of 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games, dismissing allegations by stating that the case had been mishandled, describing them as “outrageous” and “completely false.” Once again, China has bulldozed its way to protect its swimmers who were caught in 2021 but never punished and, are now being rewarded to perform again!

A documentary from German broadcaster ARD, plus reports from the New York Times and News Corp, earlier revealed that 23 Chinese swimmers had tested positive to a banned substance seven months before the Tokyo Olympics. According to the New York Times report released in coordination with German public broadcaster ARD, the athletes had tested positive to trimetazidine, but were allowed to participate and won medals also. CNN quotes the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which explained that the medicine trimetazidine “is a medicine used to prevent angina attacks, which are sudden pains to the chest, jaw and back brought on by physical effort, due to reduced blood flow to the heart.” The drug is considered to enhance performance as it helps with physical endurance.

According to an investigation by the China Anti-Doping Agency, (CHINADA) as shown in ARD’s documentary, traces of the doping agent were found in the hotel kitchen where the team was staying. The CHINADA described media reporting of the development as “misleading”  and claimed that the traces were found in the extractor fan, spice containers and the drain. German journalist and author Hajo Seppelt observes, “That a doping pill ends up in whole or in part in a pot of soup, from there onto plates and then in the stomachs of athletes does indeed sound very contrived.” WADA’s decision to let off the Chinese swimmers has evoked strong reaction from US and other countries. The WADA has since commissioned an independent review into its handling of the case. WADA however maintained that it followed every process and line of inquiry concluded that these were cases of contamination, not of doping.

US officials and other experts said the Chinese swimmers should have been suspended or publicly identified pending further investigation, and the failure to do so rested with Chinese sports officials; swimming’s international governing body, World Aquatics; and WADA, global authority that oversees national drug-testing programs. If the implicated Chinese swimmers are allowed to participate in the Paris Olympics, it could severely tarnish the event’s image, casting a shadow over the integrity and fairness of the games.  The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has accused WADA of bending the rules for China’s benefit. Chief Executive Officer of USADA Travis Tygart accused both China and WADA of violating the rules. “Even if you believe that that’s what’s caused these positive tests (inadvertent contamination), you still have to announce the positives, you still have to find a violation and you still have to disqualify the results from the event at which these athletes tested positive at,” he said. The Canadian Olympic Committee called the media reports “concerning” and “not previously known to us,” while Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, said that the organization was “deeply disheartened” about allegations which challenge “the very foundation of what fair competition stands for.”

US lawmakers have already sought an inquiry by the Department of Justice and the International Olympic Committee into the matter. Further, two leading members of the US House Select Committee on the “Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party”, Raja Krishnamoorthi and John Moolenaar, alleged that that this scandal had raised serious legal, ethical, and competitive concerns and may constitute a broader state-sponsored strategy by China to unfairly compete at the Olympic Games. With the implicated swimmers potentially competing in Paris, there is a sense of acrimony among athletes from other nations. The situation has cast a shadow over China’s sporting achievements and there is concern over the fairness of competitions. The New Zealand based portal, Drug Free Sport NZ said there were serious questions for both China and WADA to answer. “On all these, we await further investigation and information, particularly as it relates to the provisional suspension of athletes and the public reporting of violations — two important tenets of anti-doping work. The portal reported that New Zealand athletes had the right to expect a strong and transparent anti-doping system that is applied consistently to all athletes, no matter what country they come from.

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An article in Foreign Policy says the swimming scandal comes on the heels of another suspicious incident during the Beijing Half Marathon this month, where three African runners visibly slowed down near the finish line and allowed Chinese national marathon record holder, He Jie to win the event. One of the runners reportedly stated that he and the others were only serving as pacemakers and not competing in the race. However, there were no records of this arrangement according to the organizing committee. The race organizers quickly revoked He Jie’s result, the FP article stated, adding that sports scandals often take years to play out in China, and rarely ever reach a conclusion. Chinese authorities have a strong interest in covering up suspected violations, and international organizations often comply thanks to China’s liberal funding and lending practices.

Another instance was in the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics, wherein bronze-winning Chinese competitor Dong Fangxiao was widely suspected to be underage. A little late at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, Chinese state media coverage pointed to the Chinese team—which won the all-around gold—as having a few underage competitors, most notably the 4-foot-8 He Kexin. In 2010, the International Gymnastics Federation (IGF) ruled against Dong, who returned her medal from a decade earlier, but China provided documents that supposedly proved that the competitors on the 2008 team were all legitimate. The IGF backed down, but the organization’s president had reportedly said there was “strong circumstantial evidence” that at least some of the gymnasts were underage. Once again China has shown its clout in international sports organizations and ensured that its athletes get away, literally with murder and are able to compete in the Olympic Games in Paris.

Source: https://www.npr.org/2024/04/22/1246205969/china-swimming-doping-scandal-olympics

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