Herald Sun: 23 Chinese Swimmers Tested Positive Before Tokyo Olympics

23 Chinese swimmers were cleared to compete at the Tokyo Olympic Games despite testing positive on doping tests due to the tests being contaminated. Details of the mass contamination were released Friday, April 19th in an article by the Herald Sun. 

It’s alleged in the article that these 23 swimmers tested positive for trimetazidine at a training camp held months before the start of the Tokyo Games. Chinese anti-doping authorities (CHINADA) found the results of the tests were Adverse Analytical Findings (AAF) but acquitted all the swimmers without any penalties after finding that the samples were flagged as positive as a result of contamination.

This report dropped simulateously to the SwimSwam reports that U.S. swimmers were notified that the Chinese women’s 800 free relay from the Tokyo Games had been stripped of their gold medals due to a doping violation by at least one member of the relay. Though both stories were published at the same time, SwimSwam cannot explicitly link the two reports.

The Herald Sun reports that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and World Aquatics (then called FINA) were both notified of the positive samples; both agreed the results of the test were caused by contamination and did not sanction any of the athletes who tested positive.

“World Aquatics is confident that these AAFs were handled diligently and professionally, and in accordance with all applicable anti-doping regulations, including the World Anti-Doping Code,” the governing body stated to the Herald Sun.

WADA’s Senior Director of Science and Medicine, Professor Olivier Rabin, made a similar statement, saying that WADA’s Science Department reviewed the case in the months leading up to the Games. “we even sought pharmacokinetic and metabolism information from the manufacturer of [trimetazidine] in assessing the plausibility of the contamination scenario that was presented to WADA,” he explained.

“Ultimately, we concluded that there was no concrete basis to challenge the asserted contamination. Indeed, the contamination scenario was further supported by the combination of the consistently low concentrations of [trimetazidine] as well as no doping pattern with several athletes presenting multiple samples collected over the course of several days which fluctuated between negative and positive (and vice versa).”

While both WADA and World Aquatics agreed that contamination was present in the samples, two other anti-doping agencies have raised concerns. Both the International Testing Agency and the U.S Anti-Doping Agency expressed concerns to WADA about how the situation was handled.

In a statement to the Herald Sun, the ITA said “[the ITA] can confirm having received confidential and anonymous information in the summer of 2021 regarding a number of positive results affecting a group of Chinese swimmers following some testing activities performed by CHINADA in the first half of 2021.”

The statement continues, “in parallel to a full assessment of the information received that remains active, the ITA conducted many targeted follow-up testing missions in 2021, 2022, 2023 and up until today. This is a standard procedure that the ITA puts in place whenever it receives confidential information which may impact the integrity of our partners’ sport competitions.”

Since trimetazidine (TMZ) was added to WADA’s banned list in January of 2014, there have been multiple athletes handed sanctions for testing positive. Sun Yang was banned for three months in 2014. Madisyn Cox was initially given a two-year ban for testing positive, which was reduced to six-months after she traced the positive test back to a batch of contaminated vitamins.

TMZ is used as a heart medication outside of the U.S. but is not approved for sale in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration.

Updated to reflect their disqualification in the 4×200 free relay, the Chinese swim team earned five medals–2 golds, 2 silvers, and 1 bronze.

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I’d be more shocked if they were clean
1 month ago

Where is the security detail with a hammer when you really need them? I expected more.

1 month ago

I’d be curious to see how many of these comments are coming from China or VPNs. I’m seeing a lot of suspicious activity in these articles.

1 month ago

WADA’s denial is as follows:

Feel free to read through it, esp.the last sentence in bold.

Following the misleading information that has been published this week, including on social media, WADA reserves its right to take legal action as appropriate.”

1 month ago

why wasn’t this brought up anytime sooner?

1 month ago

Good, succinct video explanation of everything that’s been going on: https://www.nytimes.com/video/us/100000009424384/chinese-swimmers-olympics.html?smid=url-share

Vincent Sims
Reply to  PVK
1 month ago

The NYT is for suckers. They have the most distorted and biassed perspective on current affairs. Paid even by private interest groups to undermine whome ever their bias cosnsiders to be in their own ideologic best intrest or of their sponsors.

1 month ago

It happened before the last Olympics, but has only just come to light – but it wasn’t covered up???

Coach Jake
1 month ago

Per the WADA Code, all of these athletes should have been issued provisional suspensions promptly. This should have been public knowledge prior to the Tokyo Olympics.

WADA Code 7.4.1 – “Mandatory Provisional Suspension after an Adverse Analytical Finding…”

The code then goes on to include that during Provisional Suspension athletes have the right to a prompt hearing. During this hearing, the provisional suspension can be lifted if ” the Athlete demonstrates to the hearing panel that the violation is likely to have involved a Contaminated Product”.

In this case, that means 23 provisional suspensions should have been issued (and publicly announced to the world prior to the Olympics). Each of the 23 athletes should then have had individual hearings, where… Read more »

1 month ago

USAaaa can’t be a gracious loser, stirring up the pot…

About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

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