Katie Ledecky: Faith in Anti-Doping System at ‘All-Time Low’ Ahead of Paris Olympics

Katie Ledecky didn’t hold back in her first interview addressing the 2021 Chinese doping controversy that has called into question the results of the 4×200 freestyle relay at the Tokyo Olympics seven months later.

“It’s hard going into Paris knowing that we’re going to be racing some of these athletes,” said Ledecky, a seven-time Olympic champion. “And I think our faith in some of the systems is at an all-time low.”

The greatest distance swimmer of all time nearly captured an eighth Olympic gold medal in the 4×200 free relay a few years ago, but China pulled off an upset en route to a new world record of 7:40.33. Last month, reports surfaced linking 23 Chinese swimmers to positive tests for trimetazidine (TMZ), the same heart medication for which Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva was infamously banned four years. The list included two members of China’s triumphant 4×200 free relay team: Zhang Yufei and Yang Junxuan, who set a national record of 1:54.37 on the leadoff leg.

Chinese authorities concluded that swimmers unwittingly ingested TMZ through contamination from a hotel kitchen, but they never identified the source of the banned substance. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said it did not have enough evidence to challenge China’s version of events.

Last month, WADA appointed an independent prosecutor to review the case after catching criticism from the White House, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and international swimming federations. Findings are expected to be released right before the Paris Olympics this summer. Among the main questions is why the Chinese swimmers were not provisionally suspended after testing positive for TMZ.

“I’d like to see some accountability there,” Ledecky said. “I’d like to see some answers as to why this happened the way it did. And I’d really like to see that steps are taken for the future so that we can regain some confidence in the global system. I think the whole case has to be reexamined independently and thoroughly, and all the information needs to be out there.”

Ledecky is gearing up for the U.S. Olympic Trials next month, where she’s favored to make her fourth Olympics in the 1500 free, 800 free, 400 free, and 4×200 free relay. The 27-year-old world record holder dove into the pool as the anchor leg of the U.S. women’s 4×200 free relay in Tokyo trailing Australia by 1.53 seconds before ripping a 1:53.76 split to help her squad secure silver in an American record of 7:40.73.

Ledecky’s full interview with CBS News will air on Sunday.

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1 month ago

Suppose we accept these two statements as factual:
reports surfaced linking 23 Chinese swimmers to positive tests for trimetazidine (TMZ)
authorities concluded that swimmers unwittingly ingested TMZ through contamination from a hotel kitchen, but they never identified the source of the banned substance
Is it not then true that all 23 swimmers MUST be banned for two years? I was under the understanding that it doesn’t matter how a band substance gets into the athlete, even if it is unintentionally, unless there is an existing TUE, the athlete gest a 2-year ban. USAS instructs athletes to be extremely careful with supplements because if they contain a banned substance, even if it is not in the ingredient list,… Read more »

Reply to  NoFlyKick
1 month ago

Why did they not get the ban? The amount of substance was too low and would be too controversial to give them a ban. Testing often fluctuated between positive and negative, within the span of an hour, meaning one hour they test positive next hour they test negative, which is not sufficient enough to convict.
Not necessarily intention, but contamination. It’s happened to our runners, a group of them tested positive a while back for some banned substance, USADA said contamination, no ban, we should stop saying it’s just China that uses contamination.

1 month ago

Free Chuppy though

Nick B
1 month ago

Ledecky’s statement is basic common sense. Additionally, I think it’s important to apply this to the 2014 precedent, and realize that this sport has rarely been clean for quite a long time.

Reply to  Nick B
1 month ago

It’s never going to be clean, there will always be athletes from any and every country around the world with scientists from those countries that help their athletes dope. Scientists constantly find find new ways of doping, new drugs that enhance performance, whist testers constantly find new ways to test

Alison England
1 month ago

I still can’t get used to word ‘dove’!

1 month ago

I really hope there are powerful protests in Paris.
World Aquatics will be very nervous indeed.
The authorities do nothing in relation to China. Athletes must lead the way.

Reply to  TimOB
1 month ago

Since American swimmers are so discouraged/frustrated, they should perhaps boycott the Olympics instead of being sore losers.

Reply to  Victorc
1 month ago

Pretty sure many people see Katie as a complainer rn..

Summer Swim Fan
1 month ago

The CCP – along with dictators like Putin – function just like extreme narcissists. Without going too far, since most people don’t understand the complex mix of behaviors, it includes doing whatever it takes to win at any cost – whether in sports, business, etc, so it reflects their own sense of grandiosity and power.

Naturally, they see Olympic medals as feeding this need.

Things such as rules don’t apply to narcissists – they think they’re above them, but hypocritically accuse and project onto others the very things they’re doing.

They use hyperbolic language, lie, and gaslight to put reasonable, rational thinkers on the defensive, because reasonable people assume others are the same and are wired to believe what the… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Summer Swim Fan
Reply to  Summer Swim Fan
1 month ago

This is exactly the behavior of Zhou Jihong

stormy deniro
Reply to  Summer Swim Fan
1 month ago

just like american media since 2016

Jalen T
1 month ago

Dear God….. the only American swimmer I genuinely like and she says this…. Sounds like a sore loser talk to me.

Reply to  Jalen T
1 month ago

Yeah, stop complaining and train harder, life’s not fair

1 month ago

Am I the only one excited about the “Enhanced Games”

Reply to  Facts
1 month ago

Yes. You and James M.

Olympunks & Gamester Bullies
Reply to  Facts
1 month ago

I’m all in and it should be individuals not countries.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Facts
1 month ago

idk if “excited” but “interested” for sure.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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