Reports of Chinese swimmers testing positive for banned substance before Tokyo Olympics in 2021 ‘fake news’, Beijing says


Beijing on Monday called reports about 23 Chinese swimmers testing positive for a banned substance ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 “fake news”.

“The relevant reports are fake news and not factual,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.

The sport was rocked at the weekend by revelations that the Chinese swimmers tested positive for trimetazidine (TMZ) – a prescription heart drug that is banned in athletes because it can enhance performance – before the Games three years ago.

The swimmers were allowed to compete in Tokyo after world governing bodies accepted China’s findings that they had ingested it unwittingly from food during a meeting in late 2020 and early 2021.

Several went on to win medals, including gold, and many are in line to compete at the Paris Olympics this summer.

World anti-doping agency WADA has said there was “a lack of any credible evidence” to challenge China’s version of events.

“I believe you will also have noted that the World Anti-Doping Agency has put out a very clear response,” Wang said.

“After an in-depth and detailed investigation of this incident by the China anti-doping centre in 2021, it was determined that the relevant athletes had ingested contaminated drugs without their knowledge.

“The Chinese swimmers involved were neither at fault nor guilty of negligence, and their behaviour did not constitute a doping violation. After an investigation, WADA affirmed the findings of the China anti-doping centre.”

An Australian coach who works with the Chinese Swimming Association also rejected claims of systemic state-run doping, saying it is “so far from anything I have seen”.

Denis Cotterell, who steered Australian Grant Hackett to multiple Olympic golds and also coached drug-tainted Chinese swimmer Sun Yang, told The Sydney Morning Herald he disputed “any suggestion of anything orchestrated”.