SWIMNEWS ONLINE: June 1997 Magazine Articles

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Anita Lonsbrough

The World Swimming Coaches Association (WSCA), at its 1997 conference in Birmingham, England, issued an open invitation to swimmers, coaches, and volunteers to assist in improving world swimming.

WSCA wants all to join forces to approach FINA and "express the convictions of a growing number of swimmers, coaches, and other swimming people that there is a sincere desire for constructive discussion on some genuine concerns that affect the welfare of the sport."

The Association believes that a "collective approach is the best way forward." And to "improve the function and prevailing spirit, a constructive dialogue should be established."

This, WSCA maintains, will "help to release the tension that threatens to cause irreparable world-wide division in our sport."

WSCA members request that three goals be considered.

First, WSCA wishes to assist FINA in conducting drug-free swimming at all levels.

"It has been recognized that many Olympic sports, including swimming, are rapidly losing their integrity and world esteem, due to performance-enhancing drugs playing a role in the preparation of some athletes," WSCA claims.

It is suggested that action be taken in five ways.
1. To initiate an enhanced, unannounced, and independently controlled testing program that is conducted year-round and covers a large number of nations.
2. To implement unannounced testing of the top 25 swimmers per event (which would cover 385 swimmers) and some random testing down through the top 100 per event, with no fewer than a total of 1200 tests per year. (In 1996 FINA carried out 764 out-of-competition tests.)
3. To invite FINA to be accountable for posting details regularly on the Internet, of all testing carried out, with positive tests reported as soon as legally feasible (unlike the four Chinese positives, which took over a year to be reported).
4. To implement mandatory competition testing for the top four competitors as well as other random tests for each event at Olympic and World Championships. (278 in-competition tests were carried out in 1996).
5. To promote an educational awareness program indicating FINA's strict resistance to performance-enhancing drugs. This program should extend across the entire swimming community.

WSCA's second goal is to see increased participation in world-swimming management.

WSCA wants to see nominated swimmers, coaches, and volunteers involved in the running of the sport at all levels internationally. This should include a place on the FINA Bureau, where WSCA believes "swimming will benefit from their proven knowledge."

The seats on the Bureau should go to a current swimmer or former Olympian, and a coach "voicing the views of athletes and coaches."

The third goal is financial rewards for swimmers and coaches. This could be achieved through sponsorship.

If swimmers, coaches, and other people who are close to the swim scene agree with the three point plan, they are requested to sign up and add weight to the WSCA's way of thinking.

Victor Avdienko of Russia, Coach of Olympic Champion Denis Pankratov, has been selected by WSCA as its TERAO Award Winner, symbolic of the best coach of the 1993-96 quadrennium.

Avdienko, newly selected Russian national Head Coach, won the award after his protˇgˇ Pankratov won the 100 and 200 butterfly at the Atlanta Olympics, set World Records in the 100 fly in 1995 and 1996, and in the 100 butterfly in 1995. Pankratov was also European Champion in both fly events in 1995, and won the 1994 World Championships in Rome in the 200 fly.

Other contenders were John Carew, AUS, winner of this award in 1992, Jonty Skinner, USA, Scott Volkers, AUS, Gennadi Tourteski, RUS, and Jan Bidrman, now in Canada.

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