World Anti-Doping Agency calls extraordinary session to discuss China swimmers issue

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will be holding an extraordinary session later this week to address the situation involving 23 Chinese swimmers who were found to have traces of a prescription heart medication in their system.

WADA said on Monday that the meeting will be held virtually at 12:00 CEST (11:00 GMT) on Friday after WADA’s Executive Committee (ExCo) already met regarding the case on 25 April. 

In April, WADA faced criticism following revelations that Chinese swimmers had tested positive for trimetazidine, a substance known to potentially boost performance, prior to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

The swimmers were neither suspended nor penalised, as WADA acknowledged the explanation provided by Chinese authorities attributing the positive results to food contamination at a hotel where they had lodged.

“The objective of the Board meeting is to provide members with the opportunity to be further informed on this important matter by WADA experts and to be able to ask any questions that they may have,” a statement from the agency read.

Travis Tygart, the leader of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), has characterised the situation as a “possible cover up,” noting that the positive tests were not disclosed publicly when they occurred. 

WADA has enlisted the services of an independent prosecutor, Eric Cottier, a former Swiss public prosecutor, to examine the global anti-doping agency’s management of the incident.

Thomas Bach, the head of the International Olympic Committee, has expressed support for WADA’s approach to the matter. He revealed that if the Chinese swimmers are cleared, they could potentially participate in the upcoming Paris Olympics later this year.

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