A Chinese swimmer has tested positive. What will happen to their medals?

When allegations of doping arise at the Olympics, attention quickly shifts from the athletes who won gold, silver, and bronze medals to those who did not compete.

On Saturday, The New York Times published the findings of an unreported case in which 23 top Chinese swimmers tested positive for a powerful banned substance in 2021, just months before the Tokyo Olympics. . The swimmers, who made up about half of China’s swimming team at these events, were allowed to compete with permission from China’s anti-doping authorities and the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The episode not only concerned experts in the anti-doping community, but also raised other questions about which athletes tested positive and what happens next. Which race are you?

And what happened to the medals they won there?

For now, the answer is that nothing has changed, both for the Chinese athletes and the dozens of swimmers who finished behind them on and off the medal stand.

By comparing the names of the 23 swimmers who tested positive with their competition results, The Times identified five events in which Chinese swimmers who tested positive for banned substances won medals. Identified.

The third day of the Tokyo Games began with Zhang Yufei’s first of four medals, a silver medal. American Tori Husk finished fourth, missing out on her first career Olympic medal by a hundredth of a second.

Three days later, Zhang won her second medal, and her first gold medal, in an Olympic record time. Americans Regan Smith and Hari Flickinger touched the wall more than a second late, winning silver and bronze.

Just an hour after winning the individual gold medal, Zhang helped China win the relay gold medal. China’s world record was nearly half a second faster than the American team’s time. The Americans also broke the previous world record, but returned home with a silver medal.

Wang Shun became the second Chinese athlete to win a gold medal in individual swimming.

Great Britain won the first mixed event at the Olympics, setting a world record. However, the Chinese team defeated Australia and won the silver medal, giving Zhang his fourth and final medal at the Tokyo Games.

In a statement to the Times this week, Chinese anti-doping officials and the World Anti-Doping Agency, the world authority that oversees countries’ drug-testing programs, criticized their actions in responding to pre-Olympic doping cases. defended.

China confirmed the positive test result and announced that it had notified WADA. However, in a report prepared by China’s anti-doping agency and secretly submitted weeks before the Olympics, Chinese authorities said the swimmers had unknowingly ingested trace amounts of banned substances and that no action would be taken. Investigators have concluded that there is no need to do so.

WADA defended its decision not to take further action, saying there was “lack of reliable evidence” to challenge China’s interpretation. Just a few months later, he took an even harder line in a case involving Russian figure skaters, insisting that any criticism was baseless.

In this case, Russia would ultimately be stripped of its team gold medal, and multiple countries are appealing to improve their performance.

On Friday, the International Olympic Committee declined to comment on the positive test, saying only that “anti-doping issues are independent of the IOC,” referring questions to WADA.

However, the Anti-Doping Agency is adamant that it acted correctly within the rules, and there is no indication that it will affect the outcome of the race or the redistribution of medals.

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