Olympic swimming legend Michael Phelps said on Tuesday that an urgent overhaul of global anti-doping procedures was needed.
Phelps, the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time who retired after last year’s Rio Games, told a committee of US lawmakers that the International Olympic Committee should devote more resources to the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Speaking to the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on oversight and investigations, Phelps said that: “This is something that needs to be handled today.”
“If we allow our confidence in fair play to erode, we will undermine the power of sport, and the goals and dreams of future generations.”
“We need to find whatever the way is to figure out this issue. If that’s more money, it’s more money,” he added.
Phelps warned that doping was “crushing” sport, but refused to estimate how long it would take to tackle the problem.
“That’s what’s frustrating to me as an athlete that spent over 20 years in the pool – I’m glad people are actually starting to take it seriously and take this in a serious matter,” Phelps said.
He recalled being tested 13 times in the build up to the 2016 Olympics, even though many of his peers were not tested.
“I can’t do anything about any other athletes,” said Phelps, who won 28 medals. “I’ve done (out of competition paperwork) for 16 years.”
“I can’t adequately describe how frustrating it is to see another athlete break through performance barriers in unrealistic time frames, knowing what I had to go through to do it,” he added.
United States Anti-Doping Agency boss Travis Tygart calling for a clean separation of the IOC and WADA, saying the overlap between the two was part of the problem.
“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,” he added.