The World Anti-Doping Agency on Thursday appointed a special prosecutor to review how 23 Chinese swimmers who tested positive for a banned drug were allowed to avoid public scrutiny and compete at the 2021 Olympics, where they won gold medals and set records.

The decision to appoint the special prosecutor, Eric Cottier of Switzerland, came amid an outcry from top government officials, antidoping experts and authorities, and athletes over the way Chinese antidoping officials and the global regulator, known as WADA, handled the positives.

WADA cast the move as one it had to make in response to “the damaging and baseless allegations that are being leveled” against the agency since The New York Times on Saturday revealed how the Chinese antidoping agency, known as Chinada, and WADA declined to discipline or identify the 23 swimmers.

“WADA’s integrity and reputation is under attack,” the WADA president, Witold Banka, said in a statement. “In the past few days, WADA has been unfairly accused of bias in favor of China by not appealing the Chinada case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. We continue to reject the false accusations and we are pleased to be able to put these questions into the hands of an experienced, respected and independent prosecutor.”

As part of the review, WADA said on Thursday, Mr. Cottier — who was the attorney general of a canton in Switzerland for 17 years before he stepped down in 2022 — will be given “full and unfettered access to all of WADA’s files and documents related to this matter.”

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