US attempt to tarnish reputation of Chinese swimmers 'an old trick of politicizing sports,' won't blind majority: experts
Published: Jul 05, 2024 11:00 PM
Chinese swimmer Pan Zhanle (center) competes in the men's 100-meter freestyle final of the 2024 World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar, on February 15, 2024. Photo: VCG

Chinese swimmer Pan Zhanle (center) competes in the men's 100-meter freestyle final of the 2024 World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar, on February 15, 2024. Photo: VCG

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) again voiced its disappointment over the US' attempt to tarnish the reputation of Chinese swimmers in a 2021 contamination case, as Washington on Thursday opened an investigation into doping allegations just three weeks ahead of the Paris Olympics.

This revealed the old trick by the US of politicizing everything, including sports, an arena meant to promote unity and friendship, experts said. They believe that the majority of countries and sporting organizations worldwide will uphold the objective and fair spirit of sports, and resist succumbing to pressure from Washington.

Several US media outlets reported on Thursday that the FBI and Justice Department have opened a criminal investigation into the case involving 23 Chinese swimmers, who won three gold medals for China at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Among the 23, 11 are set to compete in the upcoming Paris Games. 

The swimmers failed a doping test in early 2021 for the heart medicine TMZ after inadvertently being exposed to the substance through contamination. 

In a report issued by WADA in April, scientists and external legal counsel were dispatched to thoroughly investigate the matter over a span of several weeks, and concluded that "given the specific circumstances of the asserted contamination, the athletes would be held to have no fault or negligence." As such, and based on the advice of external counsel, WADA considered that an appeal was not warranted.

World Aquatics also reached this decision separately. 

The latest case in the US was opened under a federal law called the Rodchenkov Act, under which the US purports to exercise extraterritorial criminal jurisdiction over participants in the global anti-doping system.  

WADA said in the Thursday statement that the investigation "validates the concerns expressed broadly by the international community about the passage of the act." 

WADA said it has reviewed the Chinese swimmer case file diligently, consulted with scientific and legal experts, and ultimately determined that an appeal was not warranted. 

The head of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach has also backed the decision by WADA, AFP reported in late April. 

This exposed the same tactics that the US always uses to politicize all matters possible, including sports, and will only make itself increasingly isolated by the rest of the world, Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Friday.

But the groundless slander won't affect China's Olympic performance, Li said, as Chinese athletes have their own pace in preparing for the competition according to their technical schedule, supported by a robust system to protect them. 

However, the US' meddling could cause misunderstandings among some countries, experts warned, calling on relevant authorities in China and internationally to effectively clarify the issue, helping them objectively view the matter and see through the US' malicious intent.

Li said that following this investigation, some "like-minded" politicians will likely further stir up trouble, warning that they could bring some twists and turns in the matter. However, the majority of the international community will not be blinded by the smears, and the evil schemes of these politicians are doomed to fail.