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Monday, July 15, 2024

Michael Phelps Had Strong Words for Congress About Lax Anti-Doping Policies, Again

  • The 23-time Olympic gold medalist testified to support stronger anti-doping enforcement.
  • ‘If we continue to let this slide any farther, the Olympic Games might not even be there,’ he said.
Erich Schlegel / USA TODAY Sports

The most decorated swimmer of all time, Michael Phelps, testified before Congress on Tuesday evening about doping in his sport.

Phelps, alongside four-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer Allison Schmitt, criticized the World Anti-Doping Agency, widely known as WADA. Earlier this year, an investigation revealed the organization had allowed 23 Chinese swimmers who had tested positive for banned substances to compete in the Tokyo Games. Two of the athletes brought home gold medals, and eleven of those swimmers are heading back to Paris.

“Honestly, if we continue to let this slide any farther, the Olympic Games might not even be there,” Phelps said of lax anti-doping regulations.

The swimmers’ testimonies before the House subcommittee are part of a larger campaign by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. It wants to hold back a portion of roughly $3.7 million in funds to WADA this year until the international organization releases the full report it received from Chinese officials in 2021. The U.S. provides the most funding of any country to WADA.

Several members of Congress on both sides of the aisle seemed to agree with the swimmers and USADA CEO Travis Tygart, who also said WADA should be audited. The chairman of the subcommittee, Representative Morgan Griffith (R., Va.), said, “Perhaps if they are not going to do the job, we shouldn’t even fund them.”

Phelps referenced his 2017 testimony before the same subcommittee about WADA’s response to widespread doping by Russian athletes.

“Sitting here once again, it is clear to me that any attempts of reform at WADA have fallen short, and there are still deeply rooted, systemic problems that prove detrimental to the integrity of international sports and athletes’ right to fair competition, time and time again,” said the swimmer.

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