Michael Phelps: I never raced against a clean field in international events
Olympic swimming hero calls on US to do more to improve anti-doping measures in sport
Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, says he does not believed he ever raced against a clean field at an international event.
Speaking to a US House of Representatives hearing into improving anti-doping measures in sport in the wake of the Russian doping scandal, the swimmer called on lawmakers to push for global reforms.
He said: "Throughout my career, I have thought that some athletes were cheating and in some cases those suspicions were confirmed."
"I don't believe I've stood up at an international competition and the rest of the field has been clean... Internationally I think there has to be something done, and it has to be done now."
Phelps, who won 28 Olympic medals, 23 of them gold, added that he had been tested 13 times in the lead up to last year's Rio Games, but was astonished to discover that more than 4,000 athletes "had no record of testing in 2016 before Rio", reports ABC News.
The paper adds: "After staying in his lane as a swimmer and not speaking out about doping in international competition, Phelps is ready to take on the issue in retirement."
Les Carpenter of The Guardian says these were "strong words from a man for whose boldest public declarations have usually been buy Dell or eat Subway or wear Under Armour, and he clearly dazzled the committee members who nodded their heads in a rare show of bipartisan unity".
He adds that Phelps's intervention could be significant. Calls are growing for the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) to be made independent of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which is seen as too concerned with bad publicity and refused to ban Russia from the Rio Games.
"With the greatest Olympic champion making his strongest statements yet about testing and punishing dopers, the IOC is facing more heat from the US, just as it looks like Los Angeles will land the 2024 Olympics almost by default," Carpenter says.