USADA criticises WADA president Banka for 'attacking' US athletes. GETTY IMAGES

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has accused World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President Witold Banka of defaming US athletes in an attempt to divert attention from WADA's handling of the case of 23 Chinese swimmers who tested positive ahead of Tokyo 2020.

In a statement released by USADA, the agency responded to comments made by Banka during an extraordinary virtual meeting of the WADA Foundation Board on Friday. The US agency's response was that the WADA president had distorted the facts "to distract from the world's real concerns about how WADA allowed China to sweep 23 positive tests under the rug".

WADA was heavily criticised last April after it emerged that 23 Chinese swimmers had tested positive for trimetazidine - a performance-enhancing substance - ahead of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

The problem is that the swimmers were not suspended or sanctioned after WADA accepted the Chinese authorities' explanation that the positive results for the heart drug were due to food contamination at a hotel where they had stayed.

USADA's chief executive officer since 2007, Travis Tygart, described the situation as a "potential cover-up".

Last Friday, President Banka cited three doping cases in the United States that resulted from environmental contamination, similar to the cases of the Chinese swimmers.

The difference is that USADA itself pointed out on Monday that the three contamination cases in the United States were made public and resulted in violations and disqualifications for the athletes named.

Banka also highlighted "inconsistent enforcement in the US" and claimed that 90 percent of American athletes - in professional leagues and college sports - do not compete under the World Anti-Doping Code.

USADA stated that this comment was "particularly manipulative in an effort to suggest that 90 percent of US athletes are dirty and only

"It is painful to see the credibility of the global anti-doping system eroded day by day by the WADA leadership's refusal to release the China file for a fair, transparent and impartial review of how 23 Chinese swimmers tested positive for a drug known worldwide to enhance performance," the statement said.

"Clean athletes, especially as we approach the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, deserve to know how a prescription drug available only in pill form ended up in a restaurant kitchen."

"Even if this 'immaculate contamination' really happened, why did WADA allow China to get away with its rule violations by not finding a first violation, any disqualifications or a public announcement?" the statement asked wryly.

USADA noted that leagues such as the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball have their own anti-doping systems (which, to be fair, are very different from global standards, beyond USADA's logical defences for the sports, as they are classified as having different anti-doping rules) and that it was "incredibly reckless for the WADA President to suggest that these sports do not have robust and effective programmes and that their athletes are not clean".

"Simply put, these comments are damaging and an insult to all athletes in these leagues and to the leagues themselves," USADA said, noting that college athletes are subject to WADA rules when they compete in competitions sanctioned by international governing bodies.

"There is nothing more classic in a cover-up than distraction and smoke and mirrors," USADA said.

"The second most classic response to a cover-up is to attack the messenger, which is the current situation as Banka and his surrogates delve into misinformation and half-truths to make personal attacks, even stooping so low as to attempt a hit job on all US athletes," the statement concluded.