USADA Dissatisfied With Lack of Details in WADA Report on Chinese Test Results

Travis Tygart

After an independent prosecutor cleared the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) of any bias toward China in a recent finding, it did not take the U.S. Anti-Doping Agencey (USADA) long to respond.

“The WADA report issued by Mr. (Eric) Cottier today provides athletes and the world with some additional information, but unfortunately, still leaves most of the critical questions unanswered when it comes to WADA allowing China to sweep 23 positive tests for a potent performance-enhancing drug under the carpet. This is unsurprising since WADA itself handpicked the investigator and set the extremely limited scope of the investigation, preventing a meaningful review. Given its cozy role in the creation of the investigation, the world also has to wonder if WADA was able to see and even sanitize the report before its release,” USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart said in a release. “From the beginning, our goal has been uncovering the truth and the facts of this situation on behalf of clean athletes. Until WADA leadership shares that goal and stops spewing vitriol at any voice of dissent, there will be no trust in the global anti-doping system. In fact, today’s WADA rules by fear and intimidation, as their statements make abundantly clear. It’s time for a new strategy given that WADA’s credibility is crumbling before the world’s eyes and athletes deserve openness, transparency, and truth—not more deflection and bullying.”

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced Tuesday that independent prosecutor Eric Cottier cleared the organization of wrongdoing three years ago when the organization did not contest the decision of the China Anti-Doping Agency (CHINADA) to declare 23 athletes were not at fault when they tested positive for trimetazidine (TMZ) in early 2021.

Chinese authorities claimed that the positive tests resulted from contamination in a hotel kitchen, and despite a failure to locate the contaminant, that scenario was deemed the most likely outcome by both CHINADA and WADA. Zhang Yufei and Wang Shun were both among the 23 who tested positive, and they went on to win gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics later that summer, with their irregular findings not announced publicly until more than two-and-a-half years later.

That left a lot of questions that still remain, even after the finding, Tygart said.

After our initial reading of the report, here’s what we still don’t know:

How did the TMZ enter the kitchen?

What is the scientific basis and data that WADA used to conclude that this was a case of contamination?

Why did WADA choose not to open an investigation, preventing them from effectively reviewing the factual bases for its conclusion?

Why did WADA allow China to break the mandatory rules without consequence?

Were all phone calls and conversations documented such that one can know what role WADA’s vice president, the IOC, and China’s extra funding play in WADA’s decision not to open an investigation or find any consequence on China for failing to follow the mandatory rules?

While WADA essentially handcuffed Cottier with both a limited scope and an impossibly short timeline for the investigation, we thank Mr. Cottier for being able to provide clarity in some critical places. We appreciate that the report confirmed the dubiousness of the contamination scenario relied upon by CHINADA, noting that WADA’s science director doubted “the reality of contamination as described by the Chinese authorities” and another WADA employee also had “difficulty in believing in the contamination.” The report further confirmed that no TMZ was found inside containers or in food itself; no individual working at the hotel was known to use TMZ; and the nearest TMZ factory 200 km away was not linked to TMZ’s presence in the kitchen.

These facts underscore the importance of WADA needing to use its investigative capabilities to assess the credibility of the source of TMZ, which it did not do. Indeed, what is most striking from the timeline included in the annex to the report is that no one from WADA’s Intelligence & Investigations team was mentioned as being involved in the review of the case. By not opening an investigation, WADA bound itself to the facts on the ground provided by CHINADA and “public authorities” without testing their veracity by interviewing athletes or doing any independent factual development.

Tygart said USADA continues to call for:

“WADA to release the full China dossier, especially the actual scientific and testing data relied on by China and WADA in determining this was a case of contamination. WADA to submit to a compliance audit as all WADA Code Signatories are required to do. A more thorough and independent investigation, where the scope and investigator are identified by neutral third parties.

“These are the actions that athletes and other stakeholders need to restore some trust in the system and regain some confidence that decisions are being made in the interests of clean athletes, not in backrooms based on political calculations.”

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1 day ago

The Cottier report might as well have been written the same day he was hired. WADA has zero credibility. World Aquatics should completely dissociate itself from that organization and simply outsource drug testing to independent drug labs around the world.

17 hours ago

Given the hypocrisy Tygart is probably the most irrelevant person to hear from now. Hope WADA sues the hell out of those propagandists

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