Michael Phelps, the most decorated athlete in Olympic history, will be in Washington next week to testify before a congressional committee on doping in international sports.
The 23-time gold medalist is one of five witnesses scheduled to speak at "Ways to Improve and Strengthen the International Anti-Doping System," a hearing to be held Tuesday by the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, which is part of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. The subcommittee "will examine the current state of the international anti-doping system, challenges it faces and ways it can be improved," according to a news release.
The hearing comes amid a recent global crackdown on doping in sports, particularly in Russia. Officials there conceded in December that they had been complicit in a far-reaching doping campaign that included tampered urine samples at the Olympics and cover-ups of banned-substance use.
Russia has had 18 medalists disqualified in doping cases from the 2008 and 2012 Games, and 10 other Russians are obliged to return medals they won on relay teams revealed to be doping.
Richard McLaren, a Canadian lawyer and sports ethics expert who headed the World Anti-Doping Agency's investigation into Russian doping, alleged in December that Russian athletes and officials were involved in an "institutional conspiracy" that corrupted the London 2012 Games "on an unprecedented scale." He said a "systematic and centralized cover-up" helped more than 1,000 Russian athletes across 30 sports.
Phelps, who retired from swimming, is one of two former athletes set to testify on Capitol Hill. The other is Adam Nelson, who won silver in shot put for the United States in the 2000 and 2004 Games. In 2013, his second silver medal was elevated to gold after Ukraine's Yuriy Bilonog was stripped of his first-place finish following retroactive testing of urine samples.
"The Olympic Games represent the greatest athletes in the world, and we want to preserve the integrity of competition, and ensure clean sport," Rep. Tim Murphy, a Republican from Pennsylvania and the subcommittee chairman, said in a statement. "This will be an important discussion to protect the revered distinction both the Olympics Games and their world-class athletes hold."
Joining Phelps and Nelson at the hearing will be U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart, International Olympic Committee medical and scientific director Dr. Richard Budgett and World Anti-Doping Agency deputy director general Rob Koehler.