A recent survey launched by Real Research, an online survey app, reveals the public’s unease surrounding a Chinese swimming doping scandal. 23 elite athletes tested positive for a banned substance — a prescription heart drug that can enhance performance — before the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, yet were cleared to compete by Chinese authorities. While 66.68% were aware of the Chinese swimmers’ doping scandal, opinions remained divided on various aspects.

Here are the key findings of the survey report:

  • 59.76% found the Chinese explanation of tainted food believable in the Chinese swimmers’ doping scandal.
  • 55.38% advocated for suspension after positive tests, while 44.62% believed athletes could compete after being cleared.
  • 41.28%  believed WADA lacked fairness across countries in handling cases like the Chinese swimmers and the Russian figure skater.

Trust in Tainted Food Explanation?

The Chinese explanation – attributing the positive tests to unknowingly ingesting a small amount of the banned substance from a tainted food supply – left many (40.24%) unconvinced. Even so, the majority (59.76%) found it believable.

Figure 1: Whether the Chinese swimmers’ doping scandal explanations were believable or not

Stance on Doping

The survey results highlighted a divided opinion on how to handle doping offenses. While 55.38% advocate for a suspension of athletes who test positive, 44.62% believe athletes deserve a chance to compete after being cleared of wrongdoing.

Figure 2: Respondents’ stance on how to handle doping offenses

Trust in Anti-Doping Agencies

The World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) decision not to hold the swimmers accountable, citing a lack of evidence, further eroded public confidence. Despite 60.24% expressing some trust in international anti-doping agencies, a substantial number (29.76% with limited trust and 10% with no trust) question their effectiveness.

Read Also: Survey on the Doping Scandals During the Olympic Games

Inconsistent Application of Rules?

The perceived inconsistency in WADA’s actions compared to other cases like the Russian figure skater further fuels concerns, with 41.28% believing WADA is not fair across different countries. This further aligns with the strong agreement (68.68%) with calling the Chinese swimmers’ doping scandal a “betrayal of clean athletes.”

Figure 3: Respondents who agree with Travis Tygart’s statement

Additionally, a significant portion (58.46%) believe China’s pursuit of Olympic success could be compromising anti-doping efforts.


Survey TitleSurvey on the Chinese Swimmers’ Doping Scandal
DurationApril 25 – May 3, 2024
Number of Participants5,000
DemographicsMales and females, aged 21 to 99
Participating Countries Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, China (Hong Kong) China (Macao), China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greanada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Maldives, Maluritania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar [Burma], Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.