SWIMNEWS ONLINE: September 1998 Magazine Articles

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Backwash features short clips, gossip, letters and opinions. Contributions are welcome.Now for the rumours behind the news.


West German drugs tested in the East

According to new Stasi file material, West German pharmaceutical companies had their part to play in the doping kitchens of the former East Germany. Documents show that drugs from the West German company Homburg found their way into the East German sport system for testing, thereby saving the company valuable time and research funds.

Reporting to the Stasi under the code name "Rolf," Dr. Lothar Kipke, chief doctor for the GDR Swimming Federation, documented the testing of Thioctazid on East German national team members leading up to the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.

The athletes received the drug in the guise of a "vitamin injection," but because the injections were so painful, Kipke and his superiors decided to resort to the tablet form, which they then mixed into the athletes' drinks. Thioctazid, which has never been on the banned drug list, activated oxygen exchange thereby reducing lactate in the muscles at a faster rate. Kipke noted "a definite improvement in the athletes' well-being leading to noticeable improvements in performance."

Contact between West German companies and GDR Sport bureaucrats is assumed to have been established at the reputed Leipzig Economic Fair. Stasi files also show that the steroid "Fortabol," from the West Berlin firm Schering, was also introduced into GDR sport and used extensively in throwing and strength disciplines. Informant "Rolf" wrote that the drug was not detectable in the athletes' urine and therefore "did not constitute a doping substance."

IOC calls for Olympic drug testing agency

The International Olympic Committee executive board has proposed to set up an "Olympic movement anti-doping agency" that would be responsible for random, out-of-competition drug testing around the world. The proposal came out of an exceptional meeting of the executive board in Lausanne on Aug.20. Instead of looking after drug testing only during the Olympic Games (as it does now), the IOC announced it plans to work with international sports federations supervising the doping controls throughout the year.

IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch said the proposed agency would be funded by Olympic television revenues and would assist those international federations that can't afford regular drug-testing programs. The agency would also help set up testing labs in Africa and Central and South America and create a "flying lab" that would travel to major events around the world, such as the Pan American Games, African Games, and Central American Games, to conduct testing.

Other details, such as the cost of the agency and how many tests it will conduct will be determined later, but the plan will be put forward for approval at a special worldwide doping summit in Lausanne next February 2-3, said Samaranch.

The IOC President also retracted the controversial remarks he made in a Spanish newspaper interview, in which he called for a drastic reduction in the list of banned substances and suggested that drugs that are harmful to an athlete's health should be prohibited. "I never said performance-enhancing drugs must be withdrawn from the list," Samaranch told a news conference. "I would like to ask the medical commission to review the list and bring it up to date. Doping is something we cannot permit. First, we have an obligaton to protect the health of the athletes, and second, it's a kind of cheating we cannot accept in sport."

He said the next big challenge will be to get all Olympic sports federations to approve the IOC's proposed medical code, which would unify testing, procedures, and sanctions. "Even if the agency works in the right way, we must have the approval of a single medical code for all the international federations," he said. "It's not possible that a drug is permitted in one federation and not in another."

Coach dismissed

As a result of the on-going series of trials in Berlin against former German Democratic Republic (GDR) coaches and team doctors, Rolf Glaser, former coach of the Sport Club Dynamo in Berlin, has been dismissed by his current employer, the province of Upper Austria, where he coached Vera Lischke to a European short course title in 1996 in the 50-m breaststroke.

"It was a difficult decision. But we cannot continue to employ a man who handed out doping substances," said Josef Puehringer, provincial governor of Upper Austria.

As reported in our June issue by Karin Helmstaedt, Glaser was accused of causing grievous bodily harm with anabolic steroids administered by him to underage athletes without their knowledge. Two of his former swimmers, Christiane Knacke-Sommer and Carola Nitschke, testified against him.

Glaser was fined 7,200 marks (US $4,200) in a Berlin court last week after admitting giving banned performance-enhancing substances to young female swimmers in the 1970s and 1980s.

Will the Games survive?

The Commonwealth Games general assembly decided to limit the number of participating sports in the future to 14 in a determined bid to ensure the Games survive.

The limit has been forced on officials as they struggle to compete against an ever growing international sports calendar.

Other changes decided at the federation's general assembly include having a minimum of two and a maximum of four team sports, and working for a better gender balance by increasing the profile of women's sports. But they stopped short of saying their aim was to control the number of competitors.

'One has to ensure the Games size does not get out of hand,' Commonwealth Games federation chairman Mike Fennell said after the closed-door assembly meeting.

The changes will take effect after the 2002 Games in Manchester although the English city has yet to complete its sports line up.

Host cities after Manchester will be restricted to athletics and swimming as compulsory sports, up to eight other individual sports and a maximum of four team sports.

There was no move towards introducing cash incentives for athletes who are increasingly placing more emphasis on being paid to compete, although Fennell conceded decisions made now could change as the federation considers a business plan designed as a blueprint for the future.

The Games, he said, would not remain the same as they were when they started in 1930.

Work started

Work started on the first major contruction project of the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games. The swimming pool complex, which will cost 32.3 million pounds (US$55 million), is situated near the city centre.

Bringing the best to North America

The USA is considering bidding for the 2003 World Championships. Cities interested are: Uniondale, NY, on Long Island, site of the recent Goodwill Games; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Palo Alto and Clovis, both in California. FINA World Championships include swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, water polo, and open water swimming. The bid has to be submitted to FINA by Jan. 31, 1999, and as reported in USA Today, "Whether we make the bid pretty much depends on the ability and the enthusiasm of the interested cities," said Ross Wales, the president of U.S. Aquatic Sports and a FINA Vice-President.

Swim coach charged

Steve Davis, a 40-year-old British swimming coach, will appear in court next month charged with child pornography offences.

Davis, head coach of the Northampton Swimming Club and Northamptonshire county coach, was given bail to appear before the town's magiatrates at the end of the month.

Davis, whose star pupil Aaron Wiles swam the 100 butterfly in 55.21 for 10th at the Commonwealth Games, has been charged with possession of indecent photographs of children with intent to distribute or show, and possession of indecent photographs of children.

He has been suspended by the Amateur Swimming Association and the British Swimming Coaches and Teacher Association.

The BSCTA said in a statement that the charges did not allege involvement with swimmers from Northampton club or county squads.

New president for USA Swimming

Dale Neuburger of the Indiana Sports Corporation has been elected as the national governing body's next president.

Neuburger replaces Carol Zaleski, who just completed her second consecutive two-year term, the maximum allowed. Zaleski was president from 1986-90 and 1994-98.

"As a former athlete, coach and meet director of some major competitions, I've enjoyed being in a service role for athletes, coaches and volunteers," Neuburger said. "I see this position as the chance to be able to do that in a more comprehensive way than my previous involvements."

Jenny Thompson was named the 1998 Swimmer of the Year and also received the Phillips Performance Award, sweeping the top honors at the USA Swimming convention in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Just wanted to drop you a line to let you know what a great job I think you are doing with the magazine. The new format is great and I think it is the most interesting and informative magazine out there right now. I enjoyed the article on Carly (Gheer) this past month and she was very, very excited!

I am also interested in getting SWIMNEWS for all my club members. Take care and keep up the great work!

Gary Anderson,
Rose Bowl Aquatics
Pasadena, CA


What a pure thrill for our family to see one of our boys' names listed in your magazine! This is the dream of many young swimmers-particularly the ones who may not be Olympic hopefuls but nevertheless love their sport and work terribly (terribly) hard at perfecting it. Thank you for making the opportunity available for them to see their achievement in "hard copy."

Our Euan has been knocking himself out for six of his twelve years, and finally made it into the rankings in 24th place both in 100 and 200 Backstroke recently. The issues his name appears in have, oddly enough, both found their way onto our living-room table. The only tiny disappointment is that his name is spelled with a "u" instead of a "v," a distinction that probably only matters to his family, the Welsh, and the Scots. But it would be great...if he should be so fortunate as to make it again...Euan.

I'm not complaining-I think it's marvellous that you manage to include so many swimmers, and I'm sure getting the names right is quite the undertaking. Thanks again for your terrific magazine: we do read the rest and enjoy every page!

Jane Sproull Thomson
Calgary, AB


We read with interest the effusive letter from Allison Stefanyshyn in the June issue and would like to set the record straight on the facts around the departure of Kevin Thorburn from the Manta Swim Club.

Kevin Thorburn was not fired from Manta. He quit, acknowledges he quit, and did not apply when our new National Group Coach position was advertised. We reorganized our club after Kevin abandoned the club and his swimmers. We reviewed the Manitoba swim environment and made a decision to support the developing levels of swimmers in the club more effectively while at the same time endorsing the newly established National Training Centre at the University of Manitoba. Five Manta swimmers joined the Centre and all placed in consols and finals at Summer Nationals. Many have written about the struggle in clubs to support the young athletes and the vast resource requirements for elite national-level performers. In our view, the new National Centre and our reorganized club allow both to flourish without the obvious tensions so many have reported in SWIMNEWS in the past.

With respect to the Stefanyshyns not being accepted into Manta, they had already made it clear that they would be taking their two daughters to their new club. They wanted their 17-year-old son, a non-competitive swimmer with very little swimming experience, to join Manta after the Stefanyshyns had sued the club and 11 board members personally and attempted to disrupt the decisions of a democratically elected board. Their action, including disseminating unsigned letters to our membership, left the board with little other choice than to reject their son's membership in the club. Interestingly, their son did not swim with their new club or any other club during the last season. And furthermore, Manta and Swim Manitoba have been successful in every court challenge brought by the Stefanyshyns and Canadian Kodiak SC to date.

We support Jane Cowx's letter and remind all coaches and parents that boards have the responsibility to act in the interests of all swimmers, not just one swimmer, one coach, and one family, as the Stefanyshyns would like us to believe. Parents unhappy with the board's decision have the option of joining other clubs, or as this family did, forming their own club with the coach of their choice.

Pat Bochen, President,
Manta Swim Club,
Winnipeg, MB


I would like to congratulate you on the excellent job that you performed in providing superb coverage of the Commonwealth Games swimming results. Canada may not be the no 1 swim team in the Commonwealth but as far as providing comprehensive swimming coverage you are number ONE. Thank you for your service.

Now that I have got that off my chest may I inquire as to whether you will be reporting on the Aussie short course championships and world short course selection trials, which I understand are to be held over the weekend.

Your number 1 fan on the web Tony Mcquade

From the Editor: We posted daily reports on the Australian short course championships where three world records were bettered. Coverage was provided by Paul Quinlan, our Australian Editor. A detailed report will follow in our October issue.


Remember... It's not true until it has been officially denied

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