China’s swim doping controversy sucks: Stubblety-Cook

Steve Larkin |

Zac Stubblety-Cook has applauded a review into the China swimming doping saga.
Zac Stubblety-Cook has applauded a review into the China swimming doping saga.

The Chinese swimming doping scandal “sucks”, says Australia’s reigning Olympic breaststroke champion Zac Stubblety-Cook.

But Stubblety-Cook says he has no choice but to take a pragmatic approach to the doping controversy still hanging over world swimming.

Stubblety-Cook won 200m breaststroke gold at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

He didn’t know at the time that some 23 Chinese swimmers raced in Tokyo despite testing positive to a banned substance seven months prior to the Games.

The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) accepted Chinese anti-doping findings that the banned substance trimetazidine came from a contaminated kitchen where the China swim team had stayed.

An independent review into WADA’s handling of the case has been launched.

The medal ceremony for the 200m breaststroke in Tokyo.
Stubblety-Cook (L) had to settle for 200m breaststroke silver in Fukuoka behind Qin Haiyang (C). (AP PHOTO)

Stubblety-Cook was beaten by China’s Qin Haiyang in the 200m breaststroke final at the world championships in Fukuoka last year.

Qin set a world record in that victory and was reportedly among the 23 Chinese swimmers who tested positive prior to the Tokyo Olympics.

“It does affect me,” Stubblety-Cook told reporters on Sunday.

“And it affects a lot of other athletes as well including the four-by-two relay,” he said, referring to Australia’s women’s 4x200m freestyle relay team who won a bronze medal in Tokyo as gold medallists China set a world record.

“And for me personally I have had to go, ‘Well, this sucks – but what can I do about it?’

“I have to have faith in the WADA system. But it’s great that now it has gone to an independent review and has gone through that process.

“But it’s still disappointing, the fact that we are talking about it six weeks out from the Olympics.”

Stubblety-Cook said his silver medal behind China’s Qin at last year’s world titles had fuelled his motivation for Australia’s Olympic selection trials starting Monday in Brisbane and the looming Paris Games.

“I was very motivated after Fukuoka and humbled in a way,” he said.

“I knew I was swimming well but not as well as I wanted to be.

“And then I came back and got fitter and stronger and I’m in a good place now.”