What are foreign media's intentions to discredit Chinese swimmers as the Olympics approaches?: Global Times editorial
Published: Apr 22, 2024 12:29 AM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Recently, some US and Australian media outlets reported that Chinese swimmers tested positive for trimetazidine (TMZ) before the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021, accusing the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) of shielding Chinese athletes and failing to hold the Chinese athletes accountable. In response, WADA refuted these claims in a statement on April 20, pointing out that the China Anti-Doping Agency (CHINADA) presented the test results as required, and it was found that the contamination was the source of TMZ after investigation. WADA conducted a thorough review that spanned several weeks, and endorsed this conclusion. Therefore, the media coverage was "misleading and potentially defamatory." 

WADA said that the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has repeatedly applied to WADA over the years without providing any evidence, accusing Chinese swimming team of doping cover-ups based on "unspecified source," and calling for a re-examination. However, WADA Intelligence and Investigations Department conducted an independent review of these allegations and concluded that "the proper procedures had been followed and that there was no evidence of wrongdoing." In addition, in recent years, USADA has also accused China of covering up doping issues based on unverified information to WADA. WADA stated that these accusations have not been substantiated. WADA also offered to interview the USADA source, but this offer was not taken up.

China attaches great importance to anti-doping work, emphasizing "getting clean gold medals" and maintaining a policy of "zero occurrence" and "zero tolerance" toward doping, which has been recognized by the WADA. It is precisely the US that is the "exception" that is outside the monitoring and management of WADA. WADA President Witold Banka stated in August 2022 that the US is a signatory to the WADA Code, but as private businesses, the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League are not bound by the rules sport federations must adhere to. Additionally, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) follows its own anti-doping rules and systems. As we all know, many American Olympians come from the NCAA, and their daily competition doping tests are not subject to WADA monitoring.

Sports events in the US lack supervision from the WADA, but the US is very enthusiastic about supervising doping outside the country, often pointing fingers at the work of WADA. In 2020, then-president Donald Trump signed into law the Rodchenkov Act, anti-doping legislation that allows the US Department of Justice to unilaterally exert criminal jurisdiction over doping incidents outside the country, with obvious political motives. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has stated that it continues to encourage the US professional leagues and the US college sport organization (NCAA) to apply the World Anti-Doping Code, but "unfortunately, they are exempt from this new Act, and they have so far not accepted the World Anti-Doping Code." The WADA has directly pointed out the essence of the Act's "long-arm jurisdiction." The slanderous accusations against the Chinese swimming team are actually a series of so-called "investigative actions" launched by the FBI based on this Act. 

In February 2018, US swimmer Madisyn Cox tested positive for TMZ while training in Austin, Texas. She initially received a two-year suspension, but later had her ban shortened after it was identified the banned substance she ingested was found in a multivitamin. In August 2021, retired Australian swimmer Brenton Rickard was also exempted from punishment as level of the prohibited substances in his sample didn't reach the threshold. Why do some foreign media outlets and related organizations remain low-key when it comes to cases involving their own athletes, while repeatedly questioning and even slandering similar incidents in other countries without distinguishing right and wrong?

One very important background is that the Chinese swimming team has achieved excellent results in a series of major events such as the 2023 World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou, and the 2024 World Aquatics Championships in Doha, demonstrating strong competitive strength and challenging the dominant position of traditional swimming powers such as the US and Australia. Relevant countries are currently manipulating the issue of doping and smearing China's swimming program, clearly doing so intentionally. In terms of timing, this coincides with the countdown to the Paris Olympics 100 days away; looking back at history, before every Olympics and other major international events, some foreign media outlets are accustomed to creating highly political "explosive news" to attack China's sports industry, the similarity of their methods and the timing of their attacks make one suspect their intentions and purposes. 

Faced with such baseless attacks, China will firmly defend the physical and mental health of athletes, uphold fair competition in sports matches, and contribute to the global anti-doping efforts, while reserving the right to take appropriate legal action against relevant media for misinformation.