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‘Maybe this sport isn’t fair’ American swimmers vent their doping controversy

Belief in a level playing field in international competition has been shaken by reports that Chinese swimmers had tested positive for banned substances ahead of the 2021 Tokyo Games, American swimmers said on the eve of the Olympic Trials in Indianapolis.

The New York Times reported in April that 23 Chinese swimmers tested positive before the Tokyo Games but were still allowed to compete.

A subsequent Times report on Friday said three of them had also tested positive for another banned substance in 2016 and 2017, with two of those athletes going on to win gold in Tokyo.

“It’s really frustrating for athletes to always have in the back of their minds that this sport might not be fair,” two-time Olympic gold medalist Lilly King told reporters.

“We risked everything. Our privacy, everything we do to compete on a level playing field. It’s really frustrating not to trust others to do the same.”

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Friday pushed back on criticism over its handling of the latest Times report, saying the positive tests were due to the swimmers consuming contaminated meat, which they said was not an unusual occurrence in that part of the region. the world.

“It’s really disappointing and frustrating for all the athletes who regularly go through the anti-doping testing process,” said Cody Miller, who took gold and bronze at the 2016 Rio Games.

“Like when they show up at my house when I’m trying to put my kids to bed or feed them and I have to go to the bathroom with a stranger and pee in a cup.”

Despite the controversy, U.S. women’s national team coach Todd DeSorbo said morale was high among the swimmers competing in the Trials, which will determine the 52-member U.S. team for the Paris Olympics starting next month.

“I don’t know if it has had any impact on our athletes at all,” he told reporters.

“They think about today, tomorrow, this meeting, this match. They are focusing on themselves and getting ready to swim fast this week.

The U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials involve more than 1,000 athletes and are held nine consecutive nights at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts.

It is expected to be the biggest swimming competition ever.