Peaty calls for greater anti-doping transparency

Adam Peaty swimming breaststroke in a race
Adam Peaty has won three Olympic gold medals. [Getty Images]

Olympic champion Adam Peaty has called for greater transparency from the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) after it failed to make public the discovery that 23 Chinese swimmers had tested positive for a banned substance ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Games.

The group were found to have heart medication trimetazidine (TMZ) in their systems.

China’s Anti-Doping Agency (Chinada) decided they would face no punishment after determining they had unintentionally ingesting the substance, with Wada concluding it was “not in a position to disprove” that assessment.

“As an athlete you want to be treated fairly and [have] full transparency and make sure that in those cases those results [positive test] are not hidden and they’re not put under secrecy,” said Peaty.

“A lot of swimmers are very disappointed in Wada.”

UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) on Wednesday echoed Peaty’s calls for greater transparency.

It said the issue had “led many athletes and the wider sporting community to question the consistency with which anti-doping processes work and how anti-doping rules are applied worldwide”, concluding that “a more transparent approach is needed”.

It called on Wada to conduct “an independent review of the regulatory framework and processes applied” to “help ensure trust and confidence is restored in anti-doping worldwide, and clean athletes can continue to be protected and championed”.

Fellow British Olympic champion James Guy, who finished second to controversial Chinese swimming star Sun Yang at the 200m freestyle final at the 2015 World Championships was among the most prominent voices to speak out following the revelations.

“Wow. Ban them all and never compete again,” he wrote on social media.

Aquatics GB, formerly British Swimming, issued a more measured response on Tuesday, but emphasised it was “extremely concerned” by the developments.

“The potential loss of trust and reputational damage to sport is significant and we will be monitoring any further updates and possible resolutions closely,” read its statement.

United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) chief executive Travis Tygart was another critic of the stance taken by Wada as well as Chinada, saying they had "swept these positives under the carpet by failing to fairly and evenly follow the global rules that apply to everyone else in the world".

Chinada’s report stated the swimmers who tested positive, six months ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021, were staying at the same hotel and that traces of TMZ were found in the kitchen, the extraction unit, above the hall and drainage units.

Wada said it concluded it did not need to appeal against Chinada’s decision not to ban the athletes after consulting with scientific experts. The global anti-doping body’s director of Intelligence and Investigations, Gunter Younger, said it “followed all due process and diligently investigated every lead and line of enquiry in this matter”.

Peaty told the BBC that in his view "it is not necessarily the country" of China which he has concerns around, more the process which saw the positive tests go unreported for so long.

However, he says that he is fully focused on retaining his Olympic crown and says the prospect of winning an unprecedented third 100m breaststroke title at Paris 2024 gives him "goosebumps."

He added that, given recent revelations, he needed to manage his emotions accordingly though.

“This is probably the hardest time to win one, with so many distractions going on, which we all are aware,” said Peaty.

“So if I’ve ever got a reason to do one, it would be this one, but I’ve got to keep my emotions in check on that one and make sure we’re ticking off the process every day and using the emotion when we need it.”

The Paris 2024 Olympic Games will take place from 26 July to 11 August.