Paris Olympics: Calls for greater WADA accountability after Chinese swimming scandal rocks Olympics build-up

The waters of Chinese swimming are anything but clear at the moment, with serious concerns that the sporting world could be on the brink of another major doping scandal - one that could again tarnish the Olympic Games.

It emerged over the weekend that seven months before the Tokyo Olympics, 23 Chinese swimmers tested positive for banned drug trimetazidine.

Chinese swimmer Sun Yang and Russian figure-skater Kamila Valieva are among those who have previously been banned for taking TMZ.

But the Chinese swimmers in question didn't face any suspension, with the World Anti-Doping Agency trusting local authorities who claimed samples were contaminated by various items at a team hotel.

Thirteen went on to compete at the Olympics.

"It seems like there's a second rule of law happening here for a particular country that now has become a very powerful country for supporting events and the Olympic movement," Global Athlete director general Rob Koehler told Newshub.

"It's almost as if we're seeing the Russian doping scandal repeating itself."

WADA is now facing growing calls for a transparent and open investigation.

However on Tuesday, WADA President Witold Banka was adamant that they had "followed all due process and diligently investigated every lead and line of inquiry" in the matter.

"If we had to do it over again now, we would do exactly the same thing. We carefully reviewed the decision of the Chinese Anti-Doping organisation from every perspective," Banka explained.

"We interrogated every piece of evidence and gathered further information as appropriate.".

Koehler says those sorts of comments have left many with more questions than answers.

"How can WADA as an organisation blindly accept Chinese police explanation when we know it's not a democratic and open society?" Koehler questioned. 

"[It was] during COVID when cleaning and disinfectants were at their highest standards. So, the story doesn't fit.

"Athletes have been saying that if WADA has nothing to hide, release all of the information they have including emails related to this case, and hand them over to a third-party investigator approved by athletes."

Newshub understands athletes and anti-doping agencies around the world feel let down - among them, Drug Free Sport New Zealand.

"We want WADA to stand in and take responsibility” DFSNZ chief executive Nick Paterson told Newshub,.

"We need China to do a proper anti-doping programme, and we need all athletes to know that they compete on a level playing field.

"WADA exists within the system as the major control, the single control over all of us national anti-doping organisations. If we don't to do the right job, WADA steps in and makes us do it properly so that we're all held to the same standard. That doesn't happen.  

"And if I'm honest, that's the most worrying."

Anti-doping agencies fear this could be even bigger than Russia's state sponsored programme which came to a head in 2014.

"We're all very nervous of that exact situation, and worry that something might happen again," Paterson said.  

"Not to say that's definitely what's happening here. It's too early. There's a lot of questions being asked and to date we don't have all the answers but that's always our worry."

Koehler agrees and is warning it could tarnish this year's Olympics.

"It's probably a bigger scandal than any scandal we've seen in several years, should these allegations be proven that the global regulator didn't uphold the rules. And clearly they didn't uphold the rules, because the rules are very clear.

"Right now, there's a cloud of suspicion going into these games where if you can't trust the global regulator, who can you trust?"

The Seine may not be all that's murky in Paris.