Ahead of Summer Olympic Games, Senate Commerce Presses World Anti-Doping Agency on Chinese Swimmers’ Doping Scandal

June 21, 2024

Senators’ letter follows NYT investigation that exposed how WADA allowed Chinese swimmers to compete during Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for banned drugs, Team USA to compete against same swimmers in Paris

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) today sent a letter today to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President Witold Ba?ka regarding a report that the agency allowed Chinese swimmers who tested positive for banned performance-enhancing drugs to compete at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. The senators demanded the agency provide a series of documents regarding the 2021 doping case, and called for action to guarantee fair competition for Team USA during the upcoming Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over athletics.

In the letter, Sens. Cruz and Cantwell write:

“We write regarding concerning reports that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) permitted Chinese swimmers who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs to compete at the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games in 2021. As we look to the Paris Summer 2024 Olympic Games, it is imperative that we ensure an even playing field for Team USA and all Olympic athletes.”

In April, the New York Times detailed how 23 Chinese swimmers tested positive for the banned substance Trimetazidine prior to the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. Following the positive tests, WADA declined to make them public or challenge the Chinese Anti-Doping Agency’s (CHINADA) assertion that the swimmers accidentally ingested the banned drugs during a hotel stay. The swimmers won several medals, including three golds, besting American swimmer Katie Ledecky. 

Sens. Cruz and Cantwell continue:

“WADA’s decision to accept CHINADA’s findings stands in stark contrast to its decision to challenge an initial exoneration by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency of a figure skater who tested positive for Trimetazidine because of ‘food/environmental contamination’ less than six months later. The Russian figure skater was ultimately disqualified from the 2022 Olympic Winter Games and sanctioned with a four-year period of ineligibility. Meanwhile, many of the same Chinese swimmers who tested positive for Trimetazidine before the 2021 games are expected to compete in Paris this summer.” 

The senators requested that WADA provide the Commerce Committee with all documents received from CHINADA related to the incident, its full case file, and meeting minutes from all WADA executive committee meetings since 2019.

Sens. Cruz and Cantwell conclude:

“Athletes are rightly concerned about fair competition at the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games. It is imperative that WADA do everything in its power to ensure fair competition.”  

Read the full letter HERE.