US swimming legend Michael Phelps has called for major reforms to global anti-doping procedures. The winner of 28 Olympic medals called on US authorities to do whatever it takes to ensure that this happens.
Testifying in front of the US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on Tuesday, Michael Phelps (pictured above, center) said that he and many other athletes didn't believe that the Olympics or other major international competitions were free of doping.
"I don't believe I've stood up at an international competition and the rest of the field has been clean," he said. "I don't think I've ever felt that. I know when I do stand up in the U.S. I know we're all clean because we go through the same thing."
Phelps added that throughout his career he had suspected that some of his competitors had been using performance-enhancing drugs, and that in some cases, those suspicions had later been confirmed.
"Given all the testing I and others have been through, I have a hard time understanding this," said Phelps, whose Olympic haul includes 23 gold medals. He then called on the lawmakers to do what it takes to stamp out doping in international sports.
"We need to take care of this issue and we need to figure it out. If that's more money it's more money," he said. "This is
something that needs to happen now, and I'm glad are people are actually starting to take this seriously, take this in a serious manner because it is crushing sports for our youth and for everybody else in the world."
Nine years late
Also testifying on Tuesday was Adam Nelson (above, left), who was only awarded his gold medal in the shot put from the 2004 Athens Summer Games in 2013, after Ukraine's Yuri Belonog was stripped of his gold following a failed drugs test. Nelson said he received his gold medal not in front of a packed stadium, but from a US Olympic Committee official in the foot court of Atlanta's airport.
"The medal came with a side of fries and a free toy. Don't worry about it." Nelson joked. "It was nine years after that moment had passed."
US Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart (right), who has called for stronger sanctions against Russian athletes due to evidence of state-sponsored doping, said the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) needed to become completely independent of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
WADA's Foundation Board and executive committee includes more than 20 IOC members while the agency's President Craig Reedie is also a member of the IOC.
"We at USADA have advocated for a clear separation between those who promote sport and those who police it," Tygart said. "To do so otherwise, we believe, is to encourage the fox to guard the henhouse."
In his testimony, the IOC's medical director, Richard Budgett said the Olympic movement was already taking action to address Tygart's concerns.
"The IOC is in the process of removing the fox from the hen house," Budgett said.
Tygart, though, was not convinced.
"It would be great if it were true," he said. "We're still waiting."
IOC President Thomas Bach declined an invitation to attend the hearing.
pfd/ftm (AFP, Reuters, AP)