Chinese swimmers doping scandal: World Aquatics slammed by own independent anti-doping expert

Bill Bock, a member of World Aquatics’ independent Anti-Doping Advisory Body (ADAB), says ADAB has been “inexplicably and forcibly shut out of the review” concerning positive tests from 23 Chinese swimmers ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

ADAB is part of the Aquatics Integrity Unit (AQIU), an operationally independent unit of World Aquatics (formerly FINA) which “handles all integrity-related matters in Aquatics, including ethical breaches, harassment and abuse, betting-related issues, result manipulation and anti-doping (in collaboration with the International Testing Agency)”.

Last month, the New York Times and German broadcaster ARD reported that 23 Chinese swimmers had given 28 positive tests for trimetazidine (TMZ) in the lead-up to Tokyo 2020. They alleged that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and FINA had failed to follow standard protocols when the Chinese Anti-Doping Agency (Chinada) concluded the banned substance was ingested unintentionally and that the swimmers would not be sanctioned.

At the start of May, World Aquatics announced it had appointed a five-person anti-doping audit review committee, including two members of the AQIU Supervisory Council, Olympic champion Florent Manaudou and Paralympic gold medallist Annabelle Williams. In a strongly-worded letter, Bock – the lead lawyer for the US Anti-Doping Agency in its case against cyclist Lance Armstrong – called that “odd” given “the World Aquatics Constitution has already established an independent expert monitoring body for anti-doping matters known as the ADAB”.

He continued, “The ADAB, of which I am a member, is a group of independent anti-doping experts specifically appointed to independently monitor, review, and evaluate any and all anti-doping integrity matters within international aquatics sport. The five current ADAB members collectively have more than 100 years of professional experience in anti-doping, which is why we were appointed to be independent monitors. However, the ADAB has been inexplicably and forcibly shut out of the review of what happened with the 28 AAFs in 2021.

“Within days of the concerning media reports about the 28 AAFs the members of the ADAB did our job. We specifically requested relevant documents from World Aquatics and set a meeting with Justin Lessard, FINA’s Legal Manager in 2021, to obtain background information regarding what happened in 2021. However, from the start, World Aquatics declined to provide the ADAB the documents we requested and needed to conduct our review. For weeks we engaged in back-and-forth correspondence with World Aquatics insiders who have sought to justify the unjustifiable – which is that the independent experts who are constitutionally mandated to independently monitor all anti-doping matters at World Aquatics have been unequivocally shut out of the anti-doping review process.

“If provided the relevant documents, the members of the independent ADAB have the experience and familiarity with the relevant anti-doping rules and procedures to understand what should have happened. We know what documents should exist, and our professional anti-doping background is likely to be essential to getting to the bottom of what transpired.”

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