WASHINGTON (WJZ) — Powerful words from Baltimore’s own Michael Phelps, as the most decorated athlete in Olympic history was on Capitol Hill Tuesday testifying on doping in international sports.
Phelps and other athletes testified after an investigation revealed widespread doping in Russian sports.
Phelps says he was tested 13 times leading up to the Rio Olympics, while some athletes weren’t tested at all, according to reports.
With 28 medals to his name, Phelps knows exactly what it takes to win at the highest level, along with the shortcuts other athletes take to get there.
“Take this in a serious manner, because it is crushing sports,” said Phelps.
Phelps and leaders of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency were in front of Congress Tuesday, expressing frustration with the current testing.
“Throughout my career, I thought some athletes were cheating, and in some cases, those suspicions were confirmed,” Phelps said.
A Russian doping scandal leading up to the Rio Olympics spiraled into a push for change and to make sure all athletes are being held to the same standard.
“I can’t describe how frustrating it is to see other athletes break through performance barriers in unrealistic time frames, knowing what I had to do to go through that,” he said.
Phelps grew up racing at the Meadowbrook Aquatic Center, where he first started picturing his dreams. He says in order for other kids to do the same, they must believe they’ll get a fair opportunity to compete.
Per reports, of the more than 11,000 confirmed entrants at Rio, more than 4,000 had no record of testing the year before Rio.
“I don’t believe I’ve stood up at an international competition and the rest of the field has been clean. I don’t believe that,” said Phelps. “I know that when I do stand up in the U.S., I know we’re all clean, because we’re going through the same thing.”
Phelps says the numbers are baffling, and to make sure the system is fair and reliable, the time to act is now.
“If we allow our confidence and fair play to erode, we will undermine the power of sport and the goals and dreams of future generation,” he said.
Phelps says it’s an issue that needs to be handled today, and if it’s more money that’s needed, then more money must be put in.
He says it’s frustrating because some athletes will not only test positive once, but multiple times, and they’re still allowed to compete at the international level.
United States shot putter Adam Nelson, who was re-awarded an Olympic gold medal more than a decade later, also testified.
phelps added “i know that when i do stand up in the u-s, i know we’re all clean, because we’re going through the same thing.”