SWIMNEWS ONLINE: June 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.

Short-lived punishment The Australian Olympic Committee has given the green light to disgraced coach Gennadi Touretsky and will allow him to go to Atlanta to coach his swimmers, Michael Klim, Matthew Dunn, Petria Thomas, and of course, Alexander Popov.

Touretsky was banned from having any involvement with Australian swimming for four years after serving a jail term (30 days) in the United States for assaulting a fellow passenger on a plane from Australia to the U.S. last summer.

The decision to include him in Atlanta has angered the Australian Swim Coaches Association (ASCA), which imposed the ban, but bodes well for another banned coach-Scott Volkers.

The coach of Samantha Riley, who admitted to giving her a banned substance in a headache tablet before the Short Course World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, is under an international suspension from FINA and is not on the list of coaches going to Atlanta.

But the AOC will select him if he wins an appeal against the suspension in the International Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Costly mistake The final chapter of the Pankratov scandal is making for some long faces at the French Swimming Federation.

Viktor Avdienko, Pankratov's coach, has asked for 650,000FF (about $130,000) in damages to make up for the FFN's negligence at the Paris World Cup in February.

Pankratov was dispossessed of two world records (100/200 fly) after the FFN failed to provide the obligatory drug test during two days of competition.

To make matters worse, the news of Pankratov's non-ratified records came out over Russian radio as "Pankratov's records were not recognized because he was drugged."

Pankratov's mother heard this, phoned her son, and the scandal was amplified. It took the Volgograd coach quite a while to calm his shattered swimmer and Avdienko maintains that even though the error was quickly rectified for the public, the damage to Pankratov's image in Russia is already done.

The "damages" will not be paid in a lump sum, but will rather take the form of training camps and travel costs in France. The Russian team is staying on to train in Canet after the Mare Nostrum Tour and the bill will go straight to the FFN.

Franzi pulls it off again Germany's Franziska van Almsick will have done it all.

Unbelievable but true, the most favoured Wundermädchen missed the Olympic team in the 100 freestyle after tying for second and missing the qualifying standard at the German Nationals in Braunschweig.

And things got worse...the next day she missed the 400 freestyle qualification, making the standard but finishing third behind none other than Dagmar Hase (sweet revenge?) and Kerstin Kielgass, both former East German swimmers who have found themselves tangled in the continuing string of Franziska follies.

On the last day however, van Almsick reached way down deep and won the 200 freestyle, the event for which she holds the world record, posting 1:58.88, the fastest time in the world this year. Hats off.

And after all was said and done, van Almsick had justified herself, and the pressure was off, after the 18 year-old was reinstated in the 100 free for Atlanta, given that there was one remaining spot to be filled. (She has a qualifying time from last August). Good luck? No, just good German calculation. They've done it before...and it's clear that if need be, they'll do it again.

Editor: Here I am-seven years a senior citizen, and 12 years since being the father of a competitive swimmer. Older and wiser, I had thought. Eons removed from rubbing shoulders with the movers and shakers in Canadian Swimming. Happily retired and looking with a wiser and more distanced eye at the bubbling pot of conflicts and troubles that boiled over from time to time.

Yes! Here I am. As mad as hell and I can't take it any more.

First was the Globe and Mail article about Joanne Malar's parents having to camp miles outside Atlanta, as no other accommodation was available. Next the report in the recent SWIM issue about the 72 hours 'in and out' rule for competitors in the Olympic Village, thus depriving many of them of the wonderful experience of marching in the opening or closing ceremonies.

I remember being at the opening ceremonies of the 1976 Montreal Olympics. There were acres of empty yellow seats reserved for officials and administrators-many, no doubt, puffed up with a false sense of their own importance, and more than a few glorying in first-class accommodation and transportation.

When, I wonder, are the Olympics going to be recaptured by those who matter-the athletes and their coaches? By no means am I condemning the many other dedicated people who are essential to the staging of the Games. But let them step down in the pecking order, exercise a little humility, and reserve the star treatment for those who have had the guts, the determination, the dedication, and the endurance needed to arrive at the starting blocks.

This return to the True Spirit of the Olympics has to start somewhere. Why not in Canada? Why not with one of Canada's most successful Olympic sports? Why not with the intensive lobbying of a former Canadian Olympic swimmer and now a senior Olympic executive-Dick Pound?

It's going to be tough. Politics and money are well established, and the powerful interests they represent will not be easily swayed.

But, for God's sake, someone, somewhere has got to turn things around. Or the last threads of the tradition as we know it will disappear. And the Olympic movement will self-destruct. Bernard McGrath Gibsons, B.C.

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

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