SWIMNEWS ONLINE: February 1996 Magazine Articles

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

FRENCH GIVE FOSTER THE BOOT... BRIEFLY: British sprinter Mark Foster, short course world record holder for the 50 m butterfly, has been suspended for a period of three months by the appeals commission of the French Swimming Federation (FFN).

The suspension dates from January 26, 1996 for use of cannabis.

Foster, who tested positive for the drug at the French Nationals in July, is barred from training and competition on French territory for the duration of the suspension.

This is a perfect example of the problems that arise when swimmers spread themselves across the map. Foster was affiliated with the swim club in Cannes, so his suspension is a bummer for the club...but he carries on swimming in England (he won the 50 m freestyle and was third in the 100 at the Sheffield World Cup) because cannabis doesn't figure on the FINA banned drug list.

A fortunate loophole indeed. The issue is not whether smoking a joint can help your performance in the water, as the opposite is more likely true. But if the rules were the same across the board perhaps athletes would think more seriously about toking, or taking, anything.

DUMB AND DUMBER: At the World Short Course Championships last December, Australia's Samantha Riley tested positive for the narcotic analgesic dextropropxyphene (see description below).

Riley's coach, Scott Volkers, said that he gave her the pill, believing it was free from banned substances, just after the opening ceremony and two days before competing. It was in his gym bag and was left over from some prescribed drugs his wife took some years back after an operation.

Dextropropoxyphene is a narcotic analgesic, one of the less powerful opioids, which acts on several sites of the nervous system to block the transmission of pain signals. It is particularly effective because it works on the brain area that perceives pain. It has the potential to be addictive. There are four painkillers containing the drug available in Australia all of which have to be obtained by prescription. Its potential side-effects include clouded consciousness, thought disruption, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and depressed breathing.

FOSCHI UPDATE: Following the US Winter Nationals in Orlando, US Swimming banned Jessica Foschi for two years, effective August 4, 1995. All performances since that date will be removed from the world rankings.

OLYMPIC MUTINY? Mark Spitz (seven golds in 1972) predicts a major crisis in Olympism within four years from now in Sydney. With all the hoopla over television rights for Sydney and the Games beyond, and the many billions of dollars the International Olympic Committee will take in, Spitz feels that one day the athletes might just revolt.

Claire Bickley of the Toronto Sun quoted Spitz as saying "The person on the short end of the stick is the athlete. You're talking about billions of dollars perhaps for the year 2000 rights and the athletes basically get room and board and they're the stars of the show."

Thinking back to the fistful of gold he won in Munich in 1972, Spitz no doubt sees a great deal of injustice in the "money managing" of the Olympics in the 80s and 90s.

In the same vein, Vancouver cyclist Alison Sydor told The Globe and Mail, "The thing that bothers me is that we're not talking about the Olympic movement of 20 years ago. We're talking about the 1990s, with huge TV contracts, the huge sponsorships."

The 1992 Olympian doesn't see why athletes can't make money in their sport. "There are a lot of people making a lot of money out of the Olympics. They wouldn't be the spectacle they are without the athletes' stories."

It seems inevitable that "amateur" sport will follow the same path of decline as pro sports, with athletes being more and more influenced by the greed that surrounds them; the Olympic "ideal" will be buried for good the day the athletes boycott their own Games to "get a percent of the action." But if they did, who could blame them?

DESERVED HONOURS: Swim BC named G.L. Flip Filippelli as the winner of the 1995 Sport BC Official of the Year Award. Flip was selected for his contributions to the sport of swimming. It will be presented March 5 at the Vancouver Hyatt Regency.

Flip received an Olympic ring from Swimming/Natation Canada at their annual meeting in October 1995. He was only the second volunteer to receive this award, which is typically reserved for coaches and athletes.

FINA has recently named Flip as one of four referees for the Atlanta Olympics.

His involvement with swimming goes back over 30 years, at the club, provincial, national, and international levels. Congratulations.

RETURN OF A PRODIGAL SON: The University of Lethbridge and the Board of Directors of the LA Swim Club Proghorns of Lethbridge, Alberta appointed Ken Fitzpatrick as Director of Swimming and Head Coach.

Ken is an experienced and well qualified coach for both the University team and the club. Most recently head coach of the Beach Swim Club in Long Beach, California and the State College, he was a finalist in the 200 m breaststroke at the 1984 Olympics, representing Canada.

He graduated with a degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern California.

MONEY PITS: Sport Canada continues to downsize but plans to develop a network of multi-sport training centres-money pits that rarely produce anything more than travel invoices, say Steve Buffery, in a recent column in the Toronto Sun.

EDITOR: Since my retirement from active duty on the Swim Alberta Board of Directors I look forward to your fine magazine to keep me up-to-date on the activities of swimming across Canada.

I read with interest the letter from Greg Streppel in the Backwash section of issue #213, October 1995.

During my time with Swim Alberta I had the fortunate opportunity to be Chairman of the 1991 Pan Pacific Championships held in Edmonton and Sylvan Lake. Because of the excitement and enthusiasm generated from the 25K swim in Perth at the 1991 World Championships, the charter nations expressed a desire to have a Pan Pacific event in Edmonton as well. To that end, the Organizing Committee scrambled to find a suitable venue in Alberta. Sylvan Lake became the host community of the inaugural 25K swim event within the Pan Pacific Championship schedule.

Since then it has become an integral part of that Championship and indeed Canadian High Performance Swimming. Congratulations to all our swimmers both in the open water and in the pool.

R.F. (Bob) Jickling
Edmonton, Alberta

EDITOR: I must say how much I enjoy your on-line magazine (http://www.swimnews.com). As a stats enthusiast I really appreciate the list of world rankings that you feature and what's more, these are updated so regulary. It's a godsend to me! It might be too much to ask but is there any chance of including all-time lists?

Like many swimming fans, I'm deeply disturbed by the drugs issue. In the article about the situation on China, I quite disagree with the assertion that the authorities there could do nothing to stem the drug culture. In these capitalist times, money talks in China. So the surest way to deter rogue coaches is to impose fines on them if any swimmers in their charge get caught. The Chinese government or its swimming association could also force the coaches to surrender any prize-money that has been won. Coaches who persistently offend could also face a life ban.

Still on China. Has anyone found out what's happened to swim stars like Cihong He (backstroke), Yuan Yuan (breaststroke), Yun Qu (butterfly) and Guohong Dai (breaststroke and I.M.)? They seem to have disappeared into thin air. Is anyone keeping tabs on them? My worry is that they may reappear for that one week in Atlanta, whitewash the record books and then return swiftly back into hibernation. I'm happy to note that Jingyi Le and Limin Liu are still displaying their prowess even though they're under close scrutiny now. That goes in part to show that their achievements in Rome are not to be entirely discredited.

However much we want to rid the sport of the stain of drugs, we musn't be seen to mount a sort of witch-hunt on China alone. Not many countries are totally blameless. The case of Jessica Foschi illustrates the danger of double standards that will ruin any credibility of the sport's anti-drug crusade.

Lastly, I'm totally floored by the recent short course times achieved by Pankratov and Sievinen. They are really a class act.

Mansoor Jalil
Cambridge University, U.K.

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

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