Michael Phelps doubts clean fields, world records at Tokyo Olympics
On a scale of one to 10 -- one being everybody cheating and 10 being spotless in terms of doping -- Michael Phelps predicted the Tokyo Olympics would be a “four or five.”
It wasn’t clear if Phelps was being asked about swimming specifically or all sports.
Phelps, four years into retirement, repeated comments he made at a 2017 congressional hearing examining the international anti-doping system.
“I can honestly say throughout my whole entire career, I don’t know if I ever competed in a clean field. If that’s the case, then, yeah, I don’t think anything’s changed,” he said in a CNN video interview published Friday.
Phelps guaranteed that no athlete has been drug tested as much as him at the Olympic level. In 2017, the swimmer said that he was tested 13 times in the six months leading up to the Rio Games.
Drug testing varies in stringency from country to country outside of the Olympic Games. International federations also test athletes, and doping controls at the Olympics are streamlined.
“The fact that we’re not held on the same playing field is really upsetting,” Phelps said. “Until we’re all held on the same level, nothing’s going to change.”
Also last week, Phelps reportedly said he believed it was unlikely swimming world records will fall at the Tokyo Games.
“Pushing [the Olympics] back by a year throws a bigger loop into it than everybody thinks,” he said, according to Reuters. “The best of the best will fight back. and you’re going to see some fast swims. But world records? I don’t think so.
“With all these pools being shut down, somebody would have to be damn near perfect for the rest of the preparation to have that chance.”
Two of Phelps’ three world records in individual Olympic events were broken at last year’s world championships. American Caeleb Dressel and Hungarian Kristof Milak took down the 100m and 200m butterfly marks, respectively. In all, world records were broken in nine Olympic events at those worlds.
Multiple swimming world records have fallen at every Olympics in the last 68 years, since the number of events eclipsed 11. There will be 37 events in Tokyo.
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