New challenge: Australia's head swimming coach Don Talbot is leaving Australian Swimming to take up as national performance director for Britain's Amateur Swimming Federation.
Renowned as one of the world's top coaches after successes in Canada, the United States and Australia, the 61-year-old will oversee Britain's program through to the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
The surprise appointment means Talbot will not be with the Australians at the Atlanta Olympics in 10 months' time ,after guiding the national team to finish two gold medals behind the number one swimming nation\ United States at the Pan Pacific Championships there last month.
Talbot's current contract with Australian Swimming expires next year, but executive director Vena Murray indicated a new six-figure contract was negotiated with Talbot last April.
"He hadn't signed it but we'd reached verbal and amicable agreement," Murray said. "He hadn't indicated at any stage that he'd had any problems. But he enjoys new challenges and has obviously decided to take on a new challenge."
Reports from Britain suggested Talbot would be paid an annual package of around 200,000 pounds.
Australian Swimming said the Talbot departure would not harm Australian swimming or the results it would achieve in Atlanta and beyond.
"Like all of us, the swimmers will be a little concerned but all the swimming coaches and swimmers are in place and the principles and policies have been laid down," said Australian Swimming board member and former Olympic freestyle gold medallist John Devitt.
"It's not just been built around one guy. It's a system that's been put onto effect."
Sign on everybody! World record-holder Jeff Rouse of the USA is circulating a petition seeking stricter doping controls, such as out-of-competition and random testing, both from FINA and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). Roughly 400 athletes from numerous sports have already signed Rouse's petition, which was circulated at the Pan Pacs.
"It's just an idea I had after World Championships last summer" said Rouse. "I guess what really made me do it was the fact that I was afraid for swimming's reputation. I'm worried that all of our performances next year will be overshadowed by controversy and suspicion."
Rouse says the petition is aimed at the IOC. "If I didn't do this, if somebody didn't do something, they would never get down to asking us (the athletes)," he said. "The athletes have never been real vocal about all of this and I thought it was time they did."
He couldn't be more correct. It is interesting to note that a male swimmer has taken such an initiative when it is women's swimming that is affected the most. Enforcing the doping issue during the meet was Dr. Roger Kruse, drug crew chief for the USOC.
"Drug testing follows a very strict USOC policy," said Kruse. "It involves a urine test done after the event. The policy includes random tests, as well as the testing of the winners of each event afterwards."
Athletes had to report for testing a maximum of one hour after the conclusion of each event during the finals. Approximately 112 swimmers underwent testing at the Pan Pacs to detect the use of any banned drugs.
"Any performance-enhancing drugs are banned from use," Kruse said. "The main ones are anabolic steroids, amphetamines and any stimulants."
After each final, the gold medalist and other random selections from the remainder of the field were tested. Any positive test results would be reported to FINA, which, in conjunction with the athlete's national governing body, would determine the appropriate sanctions. In the case of a medal-winning athlete, the respective medal would also be stripped.
Rouse wants the signatures of those who are directly affected by such drug testing programs. He adds, "It's the people who are actually involved in the sport that have to take an interest. There's an athlete's commission, but they're all retired athletes—and it's not that they don't care, but it's just not the same."
Fear of flying: Gennadi Touretski, Head Coach of swimming at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra and personal coach of sprint king Alexander Popov, seems to have gotten himself into some trouble.
During a flight from Sydney to Los Angeles over the Pan Pacific weekend, Touretski got put off the plane in Honolulu due to his violent behaviour. The 46-year-old Russian allegedly assaulted several passengers and a steward, and even bit one of the commanding officers on the arm. He was fined $10,000 and sentenced to 30 days in jail in Honolulu!
He has a medical condition related to fear of flying. Subsequently the Australian Sport Commission gave him a vote of confidence, reconfirming his position at the A.I.S.
A few Chinese in Fukuoka: While the rest of the world went ahead with the Pan Pacs and the Europeans, the Chinese had to look for clearer water this summer. Having been deliberately snubbed in Atlanta, double world champion butterflyer Limin Liu chose to attend the Universiade in Fukuoka, Japan. It was all she needed to get in and check that her 100 was up to speed. She won the event in 59.74, the second fastest time in the world this year behind Australian Susan O'Neill. Anything could happen between now and Atlanta, but the likelihood is that the Chinese remain discreet until their next "coming out." Is everybody up for a showdown next year?
Editor: In reference to your Backwash item in your August edition of SWIM Canada, Amy Van Dyken has never been guilty of any "offences" as noted in the column.
Her use of Salbutomol is properly documented with United States Swimming as required by FINA and disclosed in all her notification forms. This is specifically defined in the FINA "Guidelines for Doping Control" Second Edition.
There should be no "alarming questions" raised, as her test was done in competition and the justification for the Salbutomol presence was immediately explained to the French Federation by United States Swimming. I hope your magazine will set this issue straight as Ms. Van Dyken has followed all of the rules and has shown us that athletes with her condition can achieve at the highest level with proper medical assistance.
United States Swimming endorses the efforts by FINA to more aggressively address the problem of doping in our sport and the nations that themselves are implementing doping control programs. We recognize that these are difficult times and that there are many things to learn about doping and of more concern, the legal systems in each FINA nation that protect the civil rights of athletes, coaches and other participants in sport. We hope that your magazine will continue to address these issues.
Ray Essick, Executive Director,
United States Swimming, Colorado Springs, CO.
Reinstated: Another asthmathic, Petteri Lehtinen, from Finland, was allowed to compete at the European Championships after the Finnish Federation successfully appealed the two year suspension he was given by FINA for Salbutamol use (part of his medical prescription) and duly reported at the time of his test.
Remember... It's not true until it has been officially denied.