WADA must repair trust, says U.S. athletes’ commission head

Some athletes have lost trust in WADA after the body’s handling of failed drug tests in Chinese swimming, according to Team USA Athletes’ Commission executive director Elizabeth Ramsey.

Published : May 09, 2024 15:44 IST , London - 3 MINS READ

(File Photo)
(File Photo) | Photo Credit: ANDREJ IVANOV

(File Photo) | Photo Credit: ANDREJ IVANOV

Some athletes have lost trust in world anti-doping agency (WADA) after the body’s handling of failed drug tests in Chinese swimming, according to Team USA Athletes’ Commission executive director Elizabeth Ramsey.

Ramsey told Reuters Television there were concerns about the independence of an investigation into what had happened and called for further steps to be taken to ensure full transparency.

WADA has been under pressure since confirming media reports that 23 Chinese swimmers tested positive for the banned substance trimetazidine (TMZ) before the Tokyo Games.

China’s anti-doping agency cleared the swimmers of wrongdoing, deciding they tested positive after contamination from the kitchen of a hotel where they were staying. WADA’s science department then determined that scenario was plausible.

Ramsey, signatory to a letter to WADA last week, said trust was “a little broken” because policies and procedures appeared not to have been followed as in the past.

READ | Olympic champion Ahmed Hafnaoui to miss Paris Games

“I think right now, because of what’s happened, they need to earn that trust back,” she added in an interview from Indianapolis.

“Once that trust is broken, or it feels compromised in any sort of way, it takes a lot to earn that back. And so I think right now there is a bit of a broken trust to make sure the system is operating as it should.”

Ramsey said WADA needed to show its operating independence to build back trust and there were plenty of questions to be answered as athletes prepared for Paris.

“Do we know this has happened any other time? What else is going on? What else don’t we know?,” she said.

“When there’s not transparency, then that just raises a lot of questions because now people are questioning a bunch of things because it appears like the rules weren’t applied consistently in this case like they had been previously.

“The main thing is these athletes that are going into Paris want to know, ‘hey, what’s being done to ensure that these athletes are getting tested the same way, same way I am.’ And so those are some of the concerns we’ve heard from athletes.”

A WADA spokesman said the body had “transparently explained the exact process it followed at all stages.

“The fact is that WADA reviewed this case diligently and managed it in accordance with the rules and processes of the World Anti-Doping Code.”

WADA said independent prosecutor Eric Cottier had been tasked with handling its case and submitting a report within two months.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency called last month for WADA to be overhauled to restore confidence ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics.

China won six medals in swimming, including three golds, at the Tokyo Olympics to finish fourth on the medal table behind the United States, Australia and Britain.

Recent Olympic trials in Shenzhen indicated China will have plenty of medal contenders in the pool at the July 26-Aug. 11 Paris Games. 

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