Wada stands by decision to clear 23 Chinese athletes of doping

A Chinese flag is unfurled on the podium of a swimming event final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, on July 29, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. An Australian newspaper said Saturday, April 20, 2024, 23 Chinese swimmers were cleared to compete at the Tokyo Olympics despite testing positive to doping because world governing bodies agreed with Chinese authorities and ruled that the tests had been contaminated.  / AP
A Chinese flag is unfurled on the podium of a swimming event final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, on July 29, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. An Australian newspaper said Saturday, April 20, 2024, 23 Chinese swimmers were cleared to compete at the Tokyo Olympics despite testing positive to doping because world governing bodies agreed with Chinese authorities and ruled that the tests had been contaminated. / APJohn Carlo Thadeus Montecillo

GENEVA-- The World Anti-Doping Agency said after reviewing various media reports that it stands by its decision to clear 23 Chinese swimmers who tested positive for a banned heart medication before the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

WADA addressed questions at a news conference on Monday and acknowledged there would be skepticism about details of the case after the release on Sunday of a documentary by German broadcaster ARD.

In an earlier statement following initial newspaper reports led by the New York Times, WADA said it agreed with Chinese authorities and ruled the swimmers’ samples were contaminated.

The contamination was accepted to have come from spice containers in the kitchen of a hotel where some of the Chinese team stayed for a national meet in January 2021.

Chinese authorities handling the case after testing the swimmers in January 2021 cleared them without any penalties and WADA accepted their conclusions. Sending independent investigators to China that year was not feasible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had no credible way to disprove the contamination theory,” WADA prosecutor Ross Wenzel told reporters in an online call on Monday, adding there was no political pressure to drop the case.

Wenzel detailed a timeline from January to June 2021 for the case to be resolved. That was just weeks before the Tokyo Olympics opened, and with the Beijing Winter Games approaching in February 2022 that was a personal project for Chinese President Xi Jinping. / AP

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