{UPDATE} World Aquatics Denies That Chinese 800 Free Relay Has Been DQ’ed

[UPDATE]: On Saturday morning, a spokesperson from World Aquatics has said that it is “not currently aware of any Anti-Doping Rule Violation that might lead to a disqualification of results obtained in competition, and resulting consequences, for the Women’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay at Tokyo 2020.” According reporting by Australian journalist Julian Linden, 23 Chinese swimmers tested positive for a banned substance prior to the Olympic Games but were not suspended because of a contamination claim. Linden reports that World Aquatics looked into the case and accepted the Chinese decision, but that the ITA and USADA were concerned about the process. USADA contacted SwimSwam to deny the story late Friday night, but has not yet provided explanation as to why American athletes received a call from an individual representing the organization informing them that they would receive a promotion in the medal standings.

American swimmers say that they have been notified by USADA that the Chinese women’s 800 free relay from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is facing the stripping of their gold medals due to a doping violation by at least one member of the relay.

That means the Chinese would be stripped of their gold medals and World Record swim of 7:40.33. While athletes were not told who tested positive, the members of the relay were Yang JunxuanTang MuhanZhang Yufei, and Li Bingjie in finals and Dong Jie and Zhang Yifan in prelims.

The United States relay finished 2nd in 7:40.73, which was also faster than Australia’s World Record of 7:41.50 going into that meet. Australia has since lowered the World Record to 7:37.50, but the American finals quartet should, in theory, be credited with a World Record retroactively.

That finals relay was Allison SchmittPaige MaddenKatie McLaughlin, and Katie Ledecky. Also swimming legs in the heats were Bella Sims and Brooke Forde.

If confirmed, that would move Katie Ledecky‘s all-time Olympic medal count from 7 golds and 3 silvers to 8 golds and 2 silvers. She becomes one of just 15 people in history to win 8 or more gold medals.

That would also give the Americans a 12th gold medal from the meet, extending their lead over Australia.

The Australians, originally bronze in an Oceanic record of 7:41.29, would promote to silver, while the Canadians, originally 4th in a National Record of 7:43.77, would promote to bronze.

The only other Olympic gold medal to have ever been stripped in swimming was American Rick DeMont in the 400 free at the 1972 Olympic Games.

Proposed Medal Changes

Athletes Losing Gold Medals Athletes Promoting to Gold Athletes Promoting to Silver
Athletes Promoting to Bronze
China USA Australia Canada
Yang Junxuan Allison Schmitt Ariarne Titmus
Summer McIntosh
Tang Muhan Paige Madden Emma McKeon Rebecca Smith
Zhang Yufei Katie McLaughlin Madi Wilson Kayla Sanchez
Li Bingjie Katie Ledecky Leah Neale Penny Oleksiak
Zhang Yifan Bella Sims Mollie O’Callaghan Katerine Savard
Dong Jie Brooke Forde Meg Harris
Mary-Sophie Harvey
Brianna Throssell Sydney Pickrem
Tamsin Cook

In This Story

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Viola Smiles
1 month ago

Good to hear Summer M did earn a bronze!

Just Keep Swimming
1 month ago

Interesting situation. It seems odd that a hear medication could infect a kitchen. The only thing I can think of is if one of the swimmers had a TUE, which would explain why the medication might have been there in the first place.

But also, if CHINADA is corrupt, couldn’t they have just hid/replaced the positive samples? Rather than admitting them and making up a story?

Lots of stuff doesn’t make sense (and we don’t have the full story yet) but if you’re trying to cover stuff up wouldn’t you just… cover it up. Instead of admitting it and then concocting an excuse?

1 month ago

Nobody should pander to the Chinese, the Olympics included. If they had the substance, they shouldn’t be allowed to compete. No grey area for an “accident” that affected 23 people. Not an accident, but it shouldn’t matter. Now everybody can have an “accident” and all dope. Chinese awards should be pulled, and they should be given extra scrutiny before this and future competitions. No grey area. Banned substances are banned.

1 month ago

America jumping the gun.
As usual.
People from 3rd countries just roll their eyes at these accusations of doping from the drug drenched USA

Reply to  rajiv
1 month ago

well said.

Viking Steve
1 month ago

How high were the test results (were they higher than expected for contamination?

Were ALL the swimmers confirmed to be exposed to one source?

Was the unified source identified, tested, and confirmed to have the drug contamination and at the levels required to achieve the level in the tests?

Were the athletes that tested positive tested again over multiple days to evaluate how long the drug took to clear their system? (this would reflect if they had received multiple doses over and extended period of time)

I suspect NONE of the above happened. If so, the proof needs to be published.

Until then, this is the lowest of hanging fruit for plausible deniability, barely better than ‘it was a mistake…… Read more »

Reply to  Viking Steve
1 month ago

I believe they were tested over multiple days as in the report, it says the tests kept oscillating between positive and negative over a few days which is not consistent with deliberate doping because with deliberate doping, the body takes time to excrete the drugs The oscillation between positive and negative over just a few days strongly indicates contamination.

As for the levels that were detected, this wasn’t indicated in the report but todays tests can detect up to the picogram level which is like slicing a single grain of salt into 50 million pieces.
My take is based on the oscillating results over just a few days, it is likely that the tests detected picogram levels of Trimetazidine.… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Carlo
Reply to  Carlo
1 month ago

Why would contamination oscillate and deliberate doping not? That makes no sense. If you had contamination, i.e. one exposure, why would that not be excreted in the same way that deliberate doping would? Your explanation makes zero sense.

1 month ago

Hold up: did USADA just start telling Americans they won a gold medal with zero authority when no decisions have been made? That’s hilarious and terrible

1 month ago

The timing of the rumor spread by a tabloid is dubious.

Swimswam’s relaying it is contaminating its own reliability.

The prompt denial from World Aquatics is straightword.


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

People with preferential stands are unstandable.
Paranoiacs with hatred on certain nation are ineffectual & counterproductive, in the discussion of the case………….

1 month ago

Hilarious that anyone would think they could win a lawsuit against swimswam over this.

They reported that U.S. swimmers and coaches were notified China would be DQ’d. It seems that is true.

1 month ago
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 »

Reply to  Coach Jake
1 month ago

Provisional suspension doesn’t kick in immediately. Internal review must be completed, and WADA code specifies that hearing can take place *before* provisional suspension.

48 [Comment to Article 7.4: Before a Provisional Suspension can be unilaterally imposed by an Anti-Doping Organization, the internal review specified in the Code must first be completed. In addition, the Signatory imposing a Provisional Suspension shall ensure that the Athlete is given an opportunity for a Provisional Hearing either before or promptly after the imposition of the Provisional Suspension, or an expedited final hearing under Article 8 promptly after imposition of the Provisional Suspension. The Athlete has a right to appeal under Article 13.2.3

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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