Twenty-three top Chinese swimmers tested positive for the same powerful banned substance seven months before the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 but were allowed to escape public scrutiny and continue to compete after top Chinese officials secretly cleared them of doping and the global authority charged with policing drugs in sports chose not to intervene.

Several of the athletes who tested positive — including nearly half of the swimming team that China sent to the Tokyo Games — went on to win medals, including three golds. Many still compete for China and several, including two-time gold medalist Zhang Yufei, are expected to contend for medals again at this year’s Summer Games in Paris.

China acknowledged the positive tests in a report by its anti-doping regulator, saying the swimmers had ingested the banned substance unwittingly and in tiny amounts, and that no action against them was warranted.