Russian doping scandal

Michael Phelps blasts World Anti-Doping Agency for lifting three-year ban on Russia

Legendary American swimmer is in disbelief, asking how athletes who have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs are still competing

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 September, 2018, 4:35pm
UPDATED : Friday, 21 September, 2018, 10:41pm

Michael Phelps has blasted the World Anti-Doping Agency for lifting its three-year suspension on Russia, and said new leadership is needed in the fight against drug cheats in sport.

“I mean it’s still frustrating, right? We’re still having athletes who have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs still competing, how’s that real?” Phelps told the South China Morning Post.

The legendary American swimmer was speaking at a press conference at the 2018 “Philanthropy for Better Cities Forum”, convened by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, in his role as president of the Michael Phelps Foundation.

The most decorated Olympian of all time with 28 medals in the pool, Phelps admitted his disbelief at Wada’s decision to reinstate Russian’s anti-doping body, Rusada, following the state-sponsored drugs scandal that saw them kicked out of the last Summer and Winter Games.

“When is an organisation going to fully take responsibility and take charge to change? Because that’s not what sports is. Sports aren’t about putting performance-enhancing drugs in your body and standing up and performing,” Phelps said

“It’s sad to see this. I’ve complained about it, I’ve testified about it. And still nothing changes. So I guess that then leads us here and where do we go next? What else can be done?

“Somebody has to take charge and if Wada’s really not going do anything about it then somebody else has to.”

Wada vice-president Linda Helleland, one of just two executive committee members out of 11 to vote against reinstating Rusada, said the decision “casts a dark shadow over the credibility” of the organisation.

Travis Tygart, CEO of the US Anti-Doping Agency, called the decision to allow Rusada to regain compliance a “devastating blow to the world’s clean athletes”.

“It’s frustrating to see an organisation like that do this to sports,” said Phelps, the all-time record holder for Olympic gold medals with 23.

“I mean I’ve talked about multiple years, I don’t know if I’ve ever competed in a clean field. That’s pretty sad, that at the Olympic Games, at World Championships, that you can say that. I’m just upset.

“For me being a father, that’s something I’m gonna tell my kids and explain to them. It’s just so disappointing to see that.

“I don’t believe they should be allowed to compete. If you test positive, you should not be allowed to compete. But other people don’t believe that.”