DOJ Picks a Pre-Olympics Fight With China, Launches Massive Doping Probe

Alain Jocard/AFP via Getty Images
Alain Jocard/AFP via Getty Images

The DOJ opened a probe this week against Chinese swimmers and international sport organizers—a massive slap in the face against China just weeks before the 2024 Olympic Games begin in Paris.

The probe pertains to accusations that two dozen Chinese swimmers, including gold medal winners, were improperly cleared to compete in the last edition of the summer games despite failing doping tests weeks prior.

Federal investigators are sure to have irked Chinese officials, who chalked up the failed drug tests to food contamination—a seemingly long-shot story that was accepted by World Aquatics, the global swimming federation.

The DOJ’s decision to move forward with a criminal investigation was first reported by The New York Times, who cited federal sources. The paper described the probe as being “a dramatic escalation” against the Chinese and World Aquatics.

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After a Times report revealed the full scope of the scandal in April, a House Committee on China requested that federal investigators look into the doping conspiracies even if they happened outside U.S. borders.

Three gold medals were won by swimmers involved in the scandal at the Tokyo Olympics. Those medal-winning performances came less than a month after the World Anti-Doping Agency privately determined it wouldn’t challenge Chinese authorities’ explanation for the failed tests.

World Aquatics confirmed to the Associated Press that its executive director, Brent Nowicki, had been subpoenaed to testify in the probe.

“World Aquatics can confirm that its executive director, Brent Nowicki, was served with a witness subpoena by the United States government,” the federation said in a statement to AP. “He is working to schedule a meeting with the government, which, in all likelihood will obviate the need for testimony before a Grand Jury.”

The Paris Olympics will commence on July 26 and will continue through Aug. 11. Like they have been in all recent editions of the games, the Chinese and U.S. are expected to bring home the most medals.

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