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Michael Phelps warns Congress that doping problems threaten the Olympics

Former Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, who won a record 23 gold medals in his career, warned a House subcommittee on Tuesday night that he worries the Games will fail unless doping problems are addressed with more urgency.

“If we let this slip any further, the Olympics may not even happen,” Phelps told members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations during a rare overnight hearing on recent revelations that 23 Chinese swimmers had tested positive. for a banned substance before the Tokyo Olympics, but was not punished.

Phelps and former U.S. swimmer Allison Schmitt, a four-time gold medalist, described their careers involving regular drug tests to prove they were “clean.” Schmitt apologized to the committee for recounting in graphic detail how she and other American female swimmers constantly had to pull their “pants up to our knees and shirts up to our breasts and (drug testers) had to watch the pee come out.”

“That’s what we signed up for,” she added. “And that is what we will continue to do to fight for this clean sport.”

Phelps stated that he had to be one of the most tested American Olympic athletes ever.

“If everyone doesn’t do that and I subject myself to it, it’s just not right,” he said.

The hearing, held overnight to accommodate the tight schedules of both swimmers and some committee members, was part of an effort by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to get some of the $3.7 million the US pays to help fund World Anti-Doping Agency, withholding. Agency until WADA releases the information from the report that Chinese doping officials provided to them in 2021. Several committee members said they would support withholding money from WADA, although this is not the committee’s responsibility and would take months.

USADA CEO Travis Tygart, one of WADA’s strongest critics, also testified and asked Congress to challenge a system in which the International Olympic Committee’s ties to WADA make the organization “a lapdog instead of a watchdog.” have made.

WADA officials, who appointed an independent prosecutor to investigate the positive tests in China, did not attend the hearing despite an invitation from the commission. WADA officials have repeatedly said they did not have enough evidence to dispute Chinese anti-doping officials’ findings that the 23 positive tests for the drug trimetazidine were accidental ingestions and that they could not personally investigate due to pandemic restrictions at the time. in China.

In a statement, WADA President Witold Banka said: “There continues to be a narrative from some in the US suggesting that WADA has somehow acted inappropriately or shown bias towards China, despite no evidence to support that theory.”

He added that the 23 positive tests “have become a current political issue” in the United States.

“WADA understands the tense relationship that exists between the governments of China and the US and has no mandate to be part of it,” Banka continued in the statement.