Backwash features short clips, gossip, letters and opinions. Contributions are welcome.Now for the rumours behind the news.
The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) announced that it intends to take action to see that the medals of athletes found to have been on drugs when they won them are handed over to those they beat. Officials are monitoring the trial in Germany of four East German coaches and two doctors who are accused of administering performance-enhancing drugs to under-age swimmers. If evidence from the trials shows that injustice was done to American swimmers, the US Olympic movement says it will appeal to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to have medals awarded to US swimmers of the 1970s and 1980s who lost out to drug users from the former East Germany. US swimming officials believe 61 US swimmers may have been affected.
What a shock when FINA's monthly newsletter arrived, and in between two other minor items was the announcement that Gary Hall Jr., winner of two gold and two silver medals at the 1996 Olympics and rival par excellence of world record-holder Alexander Popov, had tested positive for marijuana. He has been provisionally suspended (a test of the B sample mid-July confirmed the presence of marijuana) and his case goes before the FINA Doping Panel. Indeed, it is his second offence of this kind. Hall tested positive for marijuana at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, but as cannabis was not on the IOC banned-drug list at the time, the case was handed to FINA, whose banned-drug list did not include cannabis. Hall was let off in Atlanta, but FINA added cannabis to its list of banned substances last year. This time the 23-year-old sprinter is in hot water, risking a suspension of up to two years...shutting him out of the Goodwill Games in New York later this month and possibly endangering his chances for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
The FINA Doping Panel heard charges against triple gold medallist Michelle Smith-de Bruin in Lausanne but failed to come to a decision on her case. Smith-de Bruin is charged with tampering with a urine sample that she provided to out-of-competition testers on Jan.10, 1998. Under FINA rules, this is considered as serious as a steroid offence. The 28-year-old swimmer could receive up to a lifetime suspension if she is found guilty of the charges.
After hearing the evidence against Ireland's controversial champion, the Doping Panel announced it would have to reflect further on the material, and that it could be days or even weeks before they reach a decision. Smith-de Bruin's lawyer, Peter Lennon, accompanied her to the hearing and said afterward, "We've been told they will inform us of any decision as soon as they come to it, and we'd like to think Michele will be the first to know." Lennon has already indicated that he will appeal any guilty finding.
Earlier on July 24, the three-man Doping Panel found four Chinese swimmers guilty of using a banned substance. Swimmers Luna Wang, Cai Huijue, Zhang Yi and Wang Wei tested positive for the masking agent triamterene at the World Championships in Perth; they have been suspended from all competition for two years. The suspensions take effect immediately, and the temporary suspension period served from Jan.14 until April 25 will be deducted from the two years.
Michael Fibbens, the British sprinter, received a one year ban for testing positive for a stimulant (a cocaine-like substance benzoylecgonine) in March at the World Cup in Sheffield.
Members of the Doping Panel were three lawyers, German judge Harm Beyer, Ben Belkacen Farid of Algeria, and Bernard Favaro of the United States.
Education is the bottom line. "The single most effective weapon against the use of drugs in sport is the athlete." This is the key phrase of the new Athletes Alliance, a group of concerned swimmers intent on allowing the athletes themselves to have an active role in cleaning up the sport. While it is still in the formative stages, the Alliance is hoping ultimately to establish a worldwide membership, and educate athletes as to how they can actively protect the sport of swimming. Concerned and informed athletes can exert positive pressure to help swimming be purged of performance-enhancing drugs.
The brainchild of the World Swimming Coaches Association, the Athletes Alliance Committee strongly endorses the WSCA Four Points:
The Alliance believes that significant changes in the sport can be hastened and achieved by the increased involvement and influence of athletes, former athletes, parents, coaches, and advisors in their specialized fields (eg. historians and medical experts).
Founders of the committee are now actively seeking members. The interest and involvement of anyone who cares about the integrity of swimming is most welcome. For more information contact:
PO Box 628, Margaret River,
6285 WA, Australia
World Swimming Coaches Association (WSCA)
2101 North Andrews Ave. # 107
Ft. Lauderdale, FL, 33311, USA
Another one-man campaign has been started in the U.S. by Scott Lemley, who recently sent out an anti-drug petition to every United States Swimming Local Swim Committee General Chair. Along with an update on the current status of the "Drug Wars," he requested the petition be both reprinted in their LSC newsletter and copied and sent individually to each club's president.
By disseminating the petition to the 58 USS LSC General Chairs, Lemley said he hopes to quickly "get the word out" about the Doping trial in Germany, the Michelle de Bruin January drug test results, and the problem the world has had with Chinese swimmers over the past 6 or 7 years. That information went out to a potential audience of 450,000 swimmers, parents, and coaches involved with United States swimming.
The petition was also sent to every United States Masters Swimming Local Masters Swim Committee General Chair with the same request to widely disseminate the petition. Lemley expects to quickly reach approximately 50,000 masters swimmers and their families and coaches. Responses, in the meantime, have started to arrive. The petition and cover letter may be found at the following web address:
Lemley adds, "I hope to make "fighting the drug war" an important issue for the U.S. competitive swimming community by involving the various General Chairs in my campaign. With the help of these 100 important individuals, I plan to build a direct pipeline to a half million people."
This is an elite-oriented meet with two age categories-14 and under, and open-scheduled for January 9-10, 1999. Last January big money winners were Simon Macdonald ($950), and Kristy Cameron ($750). This year we plan to give away $6000! For additional info:
Kevin Anderson, Head Coach
CFB Trenton Dolphins Swim Club
232 Wolsely, Peterborough, ON, K9H 4Z6
Just a quick note to let you know that I still faithfully read your magazine (thanks for the ongoing subscription) and your website. I haven't had the time over the last few years to have much contact with the swimming community, but you've kept me up to date. I've (finally) finished my training and am now a fully qualified orthopaedic surgeon. I'm currently doing a year of subspecialty training in adult reconstructive surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. I have my own clinic there once a week, so if you know of any swimmers that need to be seen by a surgeon who has a good understanding of swimming, please pass on my email (email@example.com) or office number (416-586-5041).
Deke Botsford, M.D.
Thanks very much for putting Skylar Pike in Making Waves in June. Hopefully, this will go a long way towards opening a few kids' eyes around here that everyone has two legs and one head, and not three of each, as is much perceived around these parts when they look at Ontario, Quebec, and other swimmers from the mainland.
Chuck Pratt, Head Coach
Western Whales, NF
Our family enjoyed as usual the latest edition of your magazine. One question, though: Why would you devote five precious pages to American TAG listings, especially when the distances are measured in yards, thereby making the times not comparable? Let's put our priorities where they belong. I know swimmers from western Canada, for example, who have been selected in the past for the Tewksbury camp but whose accomplishments were never acknowledged in Making Waves. Seems a little skewed in the wrong direction to me. Articles on swimmers and results from other countries certainly, but this seems to be going a bit too far.
Remember... It's not true until it has been officially denied