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Top Biden official calls for investigation of China doping case

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The Biden administration’s top anti-drug official on Monday called for an independent investigation into how China and global anti-doping agencies decided to target 23 elite Chinese swimmers who tested positive for banned substances in the months leading up to the 2021 Summer Olympics.

The official, Rahul Gupta, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said he planned to raise the issue of the handling of the positive tests at a two-day meeting of sports ministers in Washington. Senior members of the World Anti-Doping Agency are scheduled to attend the event, which begins on Thursday.

“The United States remains committed to ensuring a level playing field and a fair opportunity to compete in international sports for every American and global athlete,” Dr. Gupta said in response to questions from The New York Times. “A rigorous, independent investigation must be conducted to investigate any potential incidents of misconduct.”

Dr. Gupta is a member of the following organizations World Anti-Doping Agency Executive CommitteeBut he and his staff were not informed of the case involving the swimmer until Friday, according to a statement from his office. The next day, a Times investigation revealed a swimmer’s positive test for the banned heart drug trimetazidine (TMZ), and the response from national and global anti-doping officials.

These 23 Chinese swimmers had never been suspended or had their identities made public before the Summer Olympics; at that Tokyo Olympics, they won three gold medals.The discovery that they tested positive but still competed prompted TMZ angry reaction Allegations from Olympians competing against some of them, and accusations of cover-ups by others in the anti-doping movement.

Dr Gupta’s call for an investigation came as WADA held a video call with reporters in an attempt to stem the fallout from the disclosure of the positive test result. In a virtual news conference that lasted nearly two hours, senior WADA officials and the organization’s top legal officer repeatedly defended the handling of the case.

“If we had to do it over again now, we would do the same thing,” WADA chief Witold Banka said.

Nonetheless, WADA acknowledged that its own protocols were not followed in the case and confirmed that due to the pandemic, no hearings were held with the affected swimmers to inquire how the drugs may have entered their systems. WADA said it had decided not to appeal China’s decision, which included not banning the swimmers, as many anti-doping experts said WADA should do because, based on the available evidence, swimming Athletes will ultimately be cleared of any wrongdoing.

WADA reiterated that its officials accepted, without independent verification, the findings of Chinese state security investigators who reported finding traces of the drug in a hotel kitchen but did not determine how it arrived over there.

To support their case, WADA officials detailed what they said was extensive research and scientific review, including working with the original manufacturer of trimetazidine to obtain information from the company on the drug’s excretion phase (its removal from the body’s system). time required) non-public information.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to questions about the positive test result at a press conference on Monday declared the report “false information and reporting.”

Statements from senior government officials – Germany’s sports minister also called for an investigation after public broadcaster ARD aired a documentary about the case – could make this week’s two-day meeting in Washington awkward.

The event is the annual meeting of the Inter-American Sports Council (CADE in Spanish) and brings together representatives from more than 40 countries and guests from all fields of sport.

Officials scheduled to speak include WADA chief Banca and the organization’s No. 3 official Olivier Nigli.

An email obtained by The Times showed that by April 2021, Niggli had been copied into an email about how Chinese swimmers tested positive. By then, China had decided not to hold hearings or temporarily ban athletes, which anti-doping experts argued they should do.

Email – Sent by Official The email from Chinaada, the Chinese anti-doping agency, was addressed to Julien Sieveking, director of legal affairs at WADA. Mr. Niggli, the director-general who serves as the agency’s top administrator, was also plagiarized.

As recently as March this year, Dr. Gupta spoke passionately about WADA’s efforts to reform itself in the wake of Russia’s state-sponsored doping scandal. But he warned of the ongoing risk of bad actors seeking to undermine the global anti-doping system.

“Efforts to reform and improve the way WADA operates must continue,” Mr Gupta said at an event hosted by the agency in Switzerland, where he accepted the award on behalf of public institutions – national governments – that work for WADA contributes half of its budget. The United States is the top single-payer nation.

Dr Gupta said: “WADA must stay ahead of this evolving threat because so much is at stake: from national pride to huge sums of money for the victors and the dreams of children around the world.”

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