Michael Phelps drops a bombshell: Never been in a clean international race

Michael Phelps, 31, who won five gold medals at Rio 2016, said he was frustrated by doping cheats, calling for a more unified testing process.

other sports Updated: Mar 01, 2017 18:07 IST
michael phelps,US,swimming
This file photo taken on August 12, 2016 shows USA's Michael Phelps competing to win the men's 200m Individual Medley final at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Phelps closed the trophy cabinet after winning his 23rd Olympic gold medal, a stratospheric record. At 31, the greatest swimmer in history is the "retired person" of 2016.(AFP)

Michael Phelps believes he has never competed in an international race completely free of doping cheats.

The 23-time Olympic gold medallist was speaking at a congressional subcommittee hearing on anti-doping on Tuesday when he said he felt every international race he had been involved in had at least one cheat competing.

“I don’t believe I’ve stood up at an international competition and the rest of the field has been clean,” he said during the hearing, which was being held to discuss international anti-doping efforts.

From left: Olympians Adam Nelson and Michael Phelps, and Travis Tygart, the US top anti-doping official, are sworn during an Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing on doping in Washington on Monday. (NYT)

“I don’t think I’ve ever felt that and I know when I do stand up in the U.S., I know we’re all clean because we go through the same thing.”

Michael Phelps, 31, who won five gold medals at Rio 2016, said he was frustrated by doping cheats, calling for a more unified testing process.

“Throughout my career I have thought that some athletes were cheating and in some cases those suspicions were confirmed,” he said.

“Given all the testing I and others have been through, I have a hard time understanding this.

US swimming champion Michael Phelps poses during a photo session at the Molitor swimming pool on February 16, 2017 in Paris. (AFP)

“In addition to the tests in the competitions, I had to notify USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) where I was every day so they would be able to conduct random tests outside of competition. This whole process takes a toll but it’s absolutely worth it to keep the sport free and fair.”

Michael Phelps added he never felt confident international competitors were held to the same standard.

“I can’t describe how frustrating it is to see athletes break through performance barriers in unrealistic time frames knowing what I had to do to go through that,” he said.

Factfile on the career of retired American swimmer Michael Phelps - AFP / AFP / THOMAS SAINT-CRICQ (AFP)

“I watched how this affected my team-mates as well. Even the suspicion of doping is disillusioning for clean athletes.

“To believe in yourself through sport, you need to be able to believe in the system that safeguards clean sport and fair play.

“All athletes need to be held to the same standards which need to be implemented and enforced with consistency and independence.”

First Published: Mar 01, 2017 17:36 IST