Backwash features short clips, gossip, letters and opinions. Contributions
are welcome. Now for the rumours behind the news.
SANCTIONS LIFTED Barely ten days after receiving a two-year
suspension from the U.S. Swimming Federation, Jessica Foschi was allowed
back in the water.
Foschi tested positive for steroids at the U.S. Nationals last August and
was put on probation until her federation voted to uphold FINA rules and
suspend her. When FINA announced that Australian star Samantha Riley would
receive no suspension at all for her positive test for a narcotic analgesic
in December, U.S. Swimming saw fit to apply the same leniency and rescinded
the ban on Foschi. The controversial decision allowed her to compete at
the U.S. Trials this month (where, lucky for US Swimming, she failed to
qualify for Atlanta) before FINA itself had a chance to approve the decision.
In the same vein, Finnish swimmer Petteri Lehtinen had his two-year suspension
lifted on February 14. Lehtinen tested positive for salbutamol last March
and claimed that the drug was authorized for his asthma.
LOVE...CONNECTIONS...CONQUER ALL Another little twist
in the Riley affair is her recently revealed love affair with Norwegian
speed skater Johann Olav Koss.
Probably best known for his triple gold medal performance at the Lillehammer
Olympics in '94, Koss visited Australia last year as an ambassador for UNICEF
and managed to bump into Riley. The ensuing romance has blossomed and, from
there on, concerns no one other than the two involved.
Of interest, however, are Koss' attentions during Riley's recent positive
drug test upheaval. Not only did he fly to her side upon hearing of the
news, but it seems that he is on speaking terms with one Juan Antonio Samaranch,
president of the International Olympic Committee. A couple of well-timed
phone calls to convince Samaranch of Riley's innocence and, well, FINA didn't
stand a chance of making their own decision on the matter. The IOC apparently
put in more than their two cents worth...talk about a little help from your
In the past six weeks of Riley's ordeal Koss has made no less than three
trips to Australia to give Riley a shoulder to lean on. Broad shoulders
VOLKERS APPEALS SANCTIONS After receiving a two-year
suspension from FINA banning him from international competitions for his
part in Samantha Riley's positive drug test, Australian coach Scott Volkers
is appealing the decision.
Supported 100 per cent by Riley and her teammates, Volkers plans to be in
VESTERGAARD IN CALGARY The news that Danish individual
medley star Britta Vestergaard spent time training at the national high-performance
center in Calgary prior to the World Short Course Championships in Rio de
Janeiro was met with some reserve. While Dave Johnson, head of High Performance
Services, said that Vestergaard's presence at the centre was a "win-win
situation," several coaches were scratching their heads wondering why
a Swimming/Natation Canada funded operation was training the competition.
It was postulated that foreign swimmers were being allowed into the centre
because homegrown athletes were lacking. Vestergaard, who finished a close
third in the 400 IM behind Canadians Joanne Malar and Nancy Sweetnam, took
advantage of the centre's facilities for several weeks, apparently paying
her living expenses.
Johnson claimed, and it was news to most, that a small number of foreign
athletes will be allowed to train at the centre provided they meet certain
conditions; they must be a positive addition to the training group and be
ranked in the top eight in the world in their specialty. In addition to
living expenses, they must pay $150 to the centre.
Of note is simply the fact that Johnson considers foreign athletes training
in Canada a good thing, but when it comes to Canadian athletes looking for
a positive training environment abroad or more usually in the U.S., opposition
from SNC is quite fierce.
COURT CLEARS CHAGNAUD After serving 14 months of her two-year
suspension for a positive test for etilefrine in January 1995, French open
water swimmer Anne Chagnaud had her name cleared by the independent Court
of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne on March 12, 1996. It was a predictable
outcome given the leniency shown to Australian Samantha Riley in her doping
upset merely weeks before.
Chagnaud took her case to Lausanne as a last resort after FINA denied her
appeal late last year. Another case of "inadvertent" doping. Chagnaud
was given the banned substance by her coach in the middle of an open water
marathon in Tapes, Brazil. Her coach, Philippe Le Dily, admits to having
mistakenly given her the wrong pill, although Chagnaud claims it was an
act of vengeance and the circumstances are certainly against him.
Chagnaud commented that despite the fact that the court has finally recognized
her innocence, the damage to her image is irreparable. "It's incredible
that I had to go this far I feel that FINA could have taken care of the
whole thing months ago." The French Federation had upheld her innocence
following a disciplinary hearing last July.
Her resolve renewed, she plans to take up training immediately.
Undoubtedly the results of the cases of Riley, Foschi, and now Chagnaud
will make for difficult proceeding the next time someone's urine test is
EDITOR: For the past four years I have greatly anticipated
the advent of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Although I have been a swimmer
for most of my life, my goal for this summer is not to compete for my country.
Insteadm I want to write about the Olympic experience as an observer.
My dream has been thwarted by a decision of the Canadian Olympic Association
(COA), organisers of the Olympic Youth Camp. Applicants for this prestigious
honour are now required to be between 16 and 18 years of age. I am 21. This
decision is not only a tremendous disappointment, but I also feel I have
been robbed of a once in a lifetime opportunity. A swimmers friend of mine
travelled to Barcelona in 1992 as part of the Youth program, and still pseaks
incessantly of his adventure (much to my annoyance).
I am very concerned with women in sport and am often angered by the massive
discrepancy of media coverage for men and women athletes. My interest is
two-fold: I am a former female athlete and I am aspiring to become a journalist.
I feel that great stories necessitate first hand observation.
Given the opportunity to go to Atlanta, I am certain that my age, sex and
athletic background would provide fresh insight for me to write provocative
stories. Evidently, articles written for and about young athletes can be
told better through an empathetic voice.
While travelling to the Summer Games would not cure my itchy-footed craving
to leave Halifax, I am confident that it would provide the incentive I need
to pursue a career in journalism and accomplish my goal to write about the
NEW TESTING IN THE WORKS Michel Audran of the Faculty
of Pharmacy at the University of Montpelier in France and Raynald Gareau,
a professor at the University of Quebec in Trois-Rivieres, have found a
way to detect EPO, otherwise known as erythropoetin. This performance-enhancer
increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood and until now was detectable
only through a blood test.
Funded by the French Sport Ministry and an international pharmaceutical
company, the two researchers have managed to bypass the necessary blood
test and can find tell-tale enzymes in a user's urine. EPO causes a degradation
of certain molecules to occur and the testing process looks for this evidence
that the product has been in the athlete's system.
This poses a problem for testing. Present legislation tests only for banned
substances that are actually present in the urine; new rules would have
to be drawn up to allow for the detection of an indicator, and not the product
itself, to count as a positive.
There is still a lot of work to do to confirm their research, but the professors
feel that their findings will one day be helpful in preventing sudden heart
attacks among users of the drug, particularly cyclists. EPO is dangerous
in that it causes a thickening of the blood, giving the heart an abnormal
Remember... It's not true until it has been officially denied.
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