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Call for Independent Prosecutor and Overhaul of WADA

USADA REGISTERED LOGO.Unfortunately, none of the outstanding questions about the failure of the Chinese Anti-Doping Agency or the World Anti-Doping Agency to uniformly enforce the anti-doping rules were satisfactorily answered for clean athletes and the public in WADA’s press conference yesterday.

The selective and self-serving application of the rules we heard about yesterday destroys public trust in the authenticity and value of the Olympic and Paralympic Movement. Learning that different rules can be applied to different countries sours the commitment of those who are vital to its ongoing viability, including the world’s best athletes, fans, sponsors, and the next generation of athletes.

As a result of the global anti-doping system’s obvious failure, we urgently call on governments and sport leaders to step up and immediately undertake action to ensure that real independence, oversight, and accountability are created in the global anti-doping system so that the world can have trust and confidence in the system and those who lead it.

Given we are on the eve of the 2024 Summer Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games, athletes and the public desperately need and deserve confidence in the global anti-doping system headed into these Games. An immediate first step to repairing the damage of this cover-up is for governments to appoint an Independent Prosecutor to review the entire case file of the 23 positive tests and ensure that justice is delivered in these cases.

The statute of limitations has not run out in these cases and the pathway for application of the rules and due process may still exist. The effort to achieve whatever justice possible at this time must happen before the 2024 Paris Games, as it is unfair for all athletes competing in these Games to possibly compete against those who tested positive and whose results were kept secret until now.

WADA’s willingness to blindfold and handcuff itself as we learned yesterday, and to maintain that it would do the same thing all over again, is yet another stab in the back to clean athletes. How can a global regulator possibly be satisfied when it allows 23 positive tests to be swept under the carpet, and no athlete or organization is held accountable?

Given this, we also call on the Governments at the WADA Executive and Foundation Board to launch a full review of how it came to be that 23 Chinese positive tests were covered up, and WADA allowed it to happen without any consequence, contrary to its own rules. All athletes, sponsors, and fans of the Olympic and Paralympic Movement deserve a real global guard dog that has the teeth and the determination to apply the rules uniformly and fairly.

Additionally, following this review, we call on governments and the sport movement to overhaul WADA to ensure a cover-up of positive samples on the eve of the Olympic Games cannot occur ever again, and to once and for all remove the fox from guarding the hen house by making WADA truly independent.

Thousands of athletes around the world have dedicated themselves to playing by WADA’s rules every day, and their careers depend on their strict compliance with the rules. The organizations trusted to protect their rights should be held to the same level of accountability.



We learned yesterday in the WADA press conference that numerous failures occurred that led to the covering up of positive tests for the last three years, including the failure to follow the rules. These are addressed below:


WADA Intelligence and Investigations department acknowledged that they did not open an investigation into the 23 positive tests but just processed information in its system.

  • WADA did not do any factual investigation into the circumstances of the hotel.
  • China did not determine the source of the TMZ, and WADA apparently did not raise the obvious questions: How did a controlled drug, TMZ, arrive in the kitchen? Did any kitchen staff have a prescription or use TMZ? Did an employee crush TMZ pills while in the kitchen? Was CCTV reviewed to determine who had access to the kitchen? Certainly, the Chinese Security Service could have interviewed the hotel staff to attempt to learn who might have been using TMZ.
  • WADA also appears unconcerned by the fact that TMZ was discovered at a hotel in China by the Chinese State Security over three and a half months after the athletes who tested positive were in the hotel. Does WADA believe that the hotel was not cleaned despite these three months spanning the height of the Covid epidemic when restaurants and public places were almost certainly required to perform extensive daily and nightly cleaning?
  • WADA did not advise other athletes in China or the world of the risk of testing positive from TMZ in contaminated kitchens. If they do not know the source but nevertheless believed the story presented by the Chinese Security Service, WADA should have warned athletes and anti-doping organizations around the world. Was this possibility presented to the Valieva arbitrators in the prosecution of that TMZ case?
  • According to the New York Times, all athletes, aside from one team, stayed in the same hotel.
  • The fact that all the positives came from athletes who stayed at the hotel, when almost all the athletes stayed at the same hotel, does not prove or disprove contamination.
  • As we know from the Lance Armstrong and U.S. Postal Service cases, athletes who dope together also travel and stay at the same hotels together.

The Tips

  • USADA gave WADA contact information of a whistleblower in September 2020, who wished to remain anonymous, which is not unusual for high-profile cases where safety and security are a concern. USADA also referred the whistleblower to WADA.
  • The tip included names of swimmers who we now know were part of the 23 that tested positive.
  • The tip alleged there were gaps in the testing of these swimmers, allowing the athletes to avoid positive tests. WADA has complete access to testing histories of athletes, and the gap in testing (brought to light to the public for the first time in the ARD documentary), coupled with the 23 positive tests, should have been more than enough evidence to open an investigation.
  • WADA acknowledged also having a tip about Chinese swimming doping from the International Testing Agency. We do not know the details of this tip, but given WADA’s description of the information we passed to it, this should be immediately retrieved and compared to the tips USADA provided to WADA.
  • At no time did WADA inform USADA they were sitting on 23 positive tests.


Oscillating Positive and Negative Samples

  • Samples collected at different times of the day or on different days may oscillate between positive, negative, and another positive at the tail end of excretion from the body when the concentration of the substance is low in the urine and near the laboratory limit of detection.
  • Just because you have a negative one day and then a positive the next day, it does not mean that you were exposed to the drug after the negative test.
  • As WADA’s science director acknowledged, the positive samples were in the picogram range.
  • This “pulsing” effect is caused by a variety of factors, including the specific gravity of a urine sample (how dilute the sample is), which is influenced by athlete hydration. These various factors all play an important role in whether a substance is detected or not detected at any given point in time.
  • This can happen regardless of whether the substance originally entered the body due to intentional doping or through a contamination scenario.

Performance Enhancement

  • TMZ is a non-specified substance, and it is designated as such because of its likelihood of being used as an intentional doping agent.
  • TMZ is tested for at all times, not just during a competition, because it has lasting effects even after it is no longer detected in your urine.
  • Having a low concentration in an in-competition sample does not undercut the athlete having received a performance benefit during training in the lead-up to competition based on earlier intentional use.
  • A low concentration in samples, even collected over three consecutive days of competition, cannot tell you whether it was the tail end of excretion from intentional use or from contamination.
  • At least some of the samples in this situation were in similar ranges to the positive TMZ sample from Russian figure skater, Kamila Valieva. In that case, WADA appealed, and a four-year sanction was imposed.


Rules Not Followed

  • WADA’s own rules require that a violation be found in contamination cases, that in-competition results be disqualified, that a provisional suspension be imposed at the outset, and that the violation be publicly announced.
  • Under the rules, these 23 athletes committed an anti-doping rule violation even if they were not at fault. CHINADA, nor any other anti-doping organization, has the discretionary power to find no violation based on contamination.
  • CHINADA did not follow the rules.
  • WADA failed to appeal CHINADA’s decision to correct the clear and obvious errors, AND they did not initiate a compliance action against CHINADA for its disregard of the rules.
  • WADA’s statements at the press conference about 10 cases on U.S. soil for which there was no violation and no public disclosure, is concerning. These 10 cases were not USADA’s, and we had no involvement with them, if they in fact happened in the U.S. This is a disturbing claim, as these cases must be International Federation cases with which USADA has no involvement. But it suggests WADA’s decision to allow China to sweep the 23 cases under the rug without consequence is apparently just the tip of the iceberg. So, how many more cases have been treated the same in violation of the rules?
  • By not following its own rules in this case, WADA has shown that different rules apply for different countries or circumstances despite the fact the rules afford WADA no such discretion. The lack of transparency makes this double standard all the more unsavory and intolerable as it undermines any remaining trust athletes have in the current global regulator structure and leadership.

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