SWIMNEWS ONLINE: May 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 Follies The necessity of drug testing is giving rise to some outrageous stories, as we've seen in the past few months. The followup to the Denis Pankratov scandal at the 1996 Paris World Cup will go down in the growing annals of doping bloopers.

The initial excuse of the French Federation (FFN) was that the presiding doctor responsible for doping control ran out of bottles to effectuate a test; this kind of pretext is not only ridiculous but also holds no water given there were two world record swims over two days, not to mention two different doctors.

While the Technical Director of the FFN was unreachable for comment, another source said the problem appeared to be one of procedure, which is equivalent to negligence in this case.

French legislation requires that a doctor from the Ministère de Jeunesse et des Sports be present to conduct the doping controls. While the mandate of the doctor is completely independent of the meet organization, there was apparently no liaison between the FFN, who should have been aware of the new FINA rule for ratification of a world record, and the said doctor, who chose to do his own random testing. The "luck of the draw" meant that Pankratov was never chosen to give a sample. The lack of communication resulted in a fiasco as neither of Pankratov's two world record swims can be recognized.

The mistake weighs heavily on the FFN, and the lines have been buzzing between Paris and the Russian Olympic Committee as the Russians try to find a way out of the mess for Pankratov. While Pankratov has asked that a letter explaining the situation be written to FINA on his behalf, this may be of little help. The only recourse left to him then would be the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, whose waiting list must be growing by the minute.

The random testing in Paris did catch someone out, however, as Nadège Cliton, the 17-year-old who swam to a French record in the 400 IM (4:42.59), tested positive for cannabis. Her case was reviewed and she was given a one year probation period. Interesting in light of the fact that British sprinter Mark Foster got an outright ban from competition in France for a positive test for the same substance! Inconsistency rules.

Cliton then went on to her country's Olympic Trials in Dunkerque (with all eyes on her!) and missed the qualifying standard in the 400 IM, after having made the time in the heats.

And yet another ergogenic aid "What will C10 do for me?"

The ads are in the pages of American Swimming Magazine and Track and Field News. Creatabolin C10, a mail order "easy to use patented tablet formation" is one of the ways that today's athletes are trying to get the edge. Track stars Colin Jackson and Steve Fritz, swimmer Angel Martino, and swim coach Jack Simon are among those quoted as giving the product a high grade.

Otherwise known as creatine monohydrate, the substance is a natural protein found in the human body; it apparently reduces recovery time after intense workouts, increases strength, and allows the muscles to do more work. Similar to steroids, except that this stuff is too good to be true because it's legal.

Dr. Steve Norris, a sports scientist at the high-performance centre in Calgary, is actually supervising the use of creatine as a nutritional supplement by the Calgary centre swim team-one aspect of the sport science program that the centre has not advertised. But in an article in The Toronto Sun, Norris made it clear that the performance-enhancing benefits of creatine have yet to be proven scientifically.

So why take it? On the odd chance that it does work.

This is a sad statement on the mentality that is governing much of sport today. Here is a substance that has been around since 1988. In all that time there is still no conclusive evidence that the product works, apart from a few stars who claim it has helped them. And yet many people are taking creatine, hoping for a miracle. Kind of reminds one of algae or grapefruit for weight loss.

Too many athletes are obviously convinced that they need some kind of chemical boost to achieve their goals-but then, who can blame them, given that so many of the world's top sportsmen and women are on "the juice," and have been for years. Good old working out, lots of sleep, and eating properly just don't cut it any more. So much for being a good sport.

Let's not forget that Angel Martino, formerly Myers, was suspended for two years in 1988 after her urine tested positive for steroids. She has returned from that setback better than ever, and according to the advertisement, thanks to C10. Certainly gives new meaning to the old adage, if at first you don't succeed...try, try again. Before sending in the order form, teams should consider whether this is an example worth following.

Athletes will stay on After a strong fight by Athletes CAN, the Canadian Olympic Association has agreed to let athletes stay in Atlanta after competing at the Olympics this summer.

The COA's controversial accommodation policy was to have athletes leaving the village no later than 72 hours after they had finished their events, thus missing out on closing ceremonies and an important part of the Olympic experience. In the bureaucratic shuffle leading up to the Games, the ruling is seen as a victory for the athletes.

Sydney wants its share The latest story from Down Under is a battle for bucks. The New South Wales government has taken on the International Olympic Committee, threatening to use legislative powers to overturn the host city contract for any additional profits from the Sydney Games in 2000. In other words, the government wants a greater share in the profits from the Games to invest in post-Olympic facilities and development, as well as team travel (the latter being an important item because of the high cost of sending Australian teams to distant international competitions).

Needless to say, the IOC shot back in no uncertain terms that the contract was subject to Swiss law, and that Olympic Minister Michael Knight could face a Swiss judge. Such an action would be seen as "unacceptable" by the IOC.

No doubt IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch sees this as a future threat to diminishing returns if governments-national, state or provincial-are allowed to intervene in fund distribution.

Knight apparently told Samaranch that he would try to limit the profits the IOC and the Australian Olympic Committee take from the Games and remove the AOC power of veto over the Sydney Organizing Committee. The AOC has the power of veto to protect its profits from the Games. Knight said he was offering the AOC a guaranteed amount of the profits if they gave up the veto. Could this be the beginning of the end for IOC-Big Corporation control of funding within a particular host country? On a grass roots level, taxpayers stand to benefit from the greater share of funds, and so they should. The IOC, more concerned with the loot and the spoils, has had many a free (expensive!) ride on the backs of cities such as Montreal, who will continue to pay off the debt they incurred in staging the 1976 Games until well into the next century.

Volkers bound for Lausanne After having his two year suspension for his involvement in the positive test of Samantha Riley cut down to one year, Riley's coach Scott Volkers is disappointed with the decision. Intent on going to Atlanta, Volkers intends to appeal to the CAS in Lausanne.

COA promises big bucks Thanks to a legacy fund created after the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, the Canadian Olympic Association will be pumping another $12 million into amateur sport during the next Olympic cycle. This is certainly welcome news for sport organizations that have had to tighten the belt because of federal cuts.

The money will be dished out as follows: $4 million to top up the grants to sport federations, $4 million in direct athlete assistance, and $4 million to support national training centres.

With the last handout the COA hopes to see more national centres develop and expand the existing high performance centre in Calgary. This is ironic in light of the fact that Geoff Gowan, the retiring head of the Coaching Association of Canada and one of the founders of Canada's centralized sport administration, recently told the Globe and Mail that he believes such a model to be a "mistake."

To quote The Globe (Mar. 25, 1996), "It's an organizational model Gowan now questions-saying it cultivated paper pushers rather than athletes and coaches-but there's no denying the Canadian coaching fraternity thrived under his association."

This seems to be an out and out panning of his own great idea. And yet more centres are on the agenda. One wonders, where is the demand? It certainly isn't there in swimming. This leads us to believe that more centres would be created not out of need, but simply because there is money to burn in the COA vault. If more money is to go directly to the athletes, we don't need more centres, and more bureaucrats, to see that it gets to them.

Editor: Hello to all my Canadian swimming friends. After 10 years of coaching in Canada I have moved to Hong Kong this winter and I have been appointed head coach of the Sea Lion Aqua Club, Shatin starting April 1. I have gotten married with my fiancee Rolita Yeung last December and we are expecting our first child this October. Anyone requiring swimming related information from Hong Kong please contact me:

Takeo Inoki,
Flat 3, 7 th floor, Block M
Sunshine City, Ma On Shan,
Sha Tin, New Territories, HONG KONG
Tel: (852) 2683-5148

London alumni: The present membership of the London Aquatic Club would like to invite all former LAC and LYAC swimmers and parents to form an alumni association. We are approaching our 50th anniversary as a competitive swim club. If you would like to stay up-to-date with the present LAC and former swim friends, contact the London Aquatic Club for further information.

Nancy Cooper
Club Historian LAC
47 Tumbleweed Crescent
London, ON, N6E 2N5
(519) 649-1796

Editor: Hi! Great Website! My wife Donna Ross and I enjoy the up-to-the minute look at the world of swimming that you provide. We were surprised how slow the times were in the 400 freestyle at the Canadian and Australian Olympic Trials. Looking at these times makes me think I should come out of retirement...
Keep up the good work.

Peter Szmidt Toronto (via e-mail).

Mr. Szmidt won the 1980 Canadian Olympic Trials in the 200 free in 1:50.27, 400 free in 3:50.49 a world record, and the 1500 free in 15:28.88, all faster than the winning times in 1996.

Editor: I used to swim with Dave Johnson and George Gate at the Pointe Claire Swim Club-it seems like ages ago! I am now chairman of the National Athletic Committee of Maccabi Canada and the Captain of the Canadian contingent to compete at the 15 th Maccabiah Games in Israel in 1997.

Our priority at this stage of organizing and preparing for this endeavour is to make sure we identify all potential athletes as well as to make sure these potential athletes are aware of this unique opportunity. This truly is a trip of a lifetime for any athlete of the Jewish faith.

Enclosed is an "Announcement" looking for all potential athletes for these upcoming Games. I hope it would be possible for you to publish this information in your magazine. This would help to ensure that no potential swimmer for these Games will be left behind.

Bob Luxenberg,
Maccabi Canada

Please Contact
West - Ed Lewin (604) 263-3877
Ontario - Allen Gerskup (416) 630-7799
Quebec / Ottawa and East - Gerry Kallos (514) 342-1041

Or Write to:
Maccabi Canada
P.O. Box 42523
5150 Queen Mary Road
Montreal, Quebec
H3W 1X0

Editor: In the January 1996 edition of SWIM Canada Magazine, Byron MacDonald, in a letter to the editor, stated his disagreement with the rumoured change to the age group system from one based on age on the first day of competition to one based on age as of January 1. MacDonald included many valid points in support of children changing age groups when their birthday occurs. We strongly support his position to leave the age group system as is.

As parents we encourage our children to stay in swimming and be active as long as possible. We believe that the rumoured change would primarily benefit children born in the winter/spring and be a serious detriment to children born in the summer/fall. Imagine competitions involving children born in January swimming against children born the following December, with the former having an 11 month physical and mental developmental advantage.

The best interests of children/swimmers should always be of prime importance when considering changes. Two major goals of Swimming/Natation Canada should be to have swimmers remain in the sport as long as possible and to show individual improvement.

We hope the proposed change is just a rumour and that no one in a decision-making capacity would seriously consider making this change.

Executive, Pacific Seawolves SC,
White Rock, B.C.

If you support this position you may fax: Bob Poulton (604) 936-1437

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

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