SWIMNEWS ONLINE: February 1998 Magazine Articles

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Athletes Are Hurt, And Something Has To Be Done


Karin Helmstaedt

Just moments after the news came out about the positive Chinese drug tests, Australian Head Coach Don Talbot was asked about the current doping crisis and FINA's role in an ever-festering situation. The 64-year-old coach made his views crystal clear.

"What the hell is the surprise?" he asked journalists that packed the room.

"We all know this. It just proves there's something rotten here, and FINA's realizing it now. And because of the "four strikes and you're out" rule I personally think they should not be allowed to compete any further."

He went on to say that the medals already won by Chinese swimmers should also be taken away.

Talbot always passionate about the sport he loves
Click image for larger photo. Photo © Marco Chiesa

"Why not? We're here, it's easy to do," he quipped in disgust. "You get suspended but you get to keep your medal? What kind of rule is that? The point is, the rule is not new. When FINA write their rules, they should apply them."

When asked about the claims by Chinese officials last week that their swimmers were clean, Talbot did not mince his words: "It just tells you what bloody liars they are."

When asked about how this made things look for Sydney 2000, he said, "I don't think FINA or the IOC have anything in place to deal with long term bans on nations, which is the situation we have here. They've got to start being a bit proactive instead of just reactive. History shows that nations cheat. And they deny it when someone accuses them of cheating. And when there's evidence to prove it they still deny it!"

He went on with a scathing tirade: "I do believe that if enough effort was put into it, if there was a will to do something about all the things we can't test for, they could do it. We have a lot of technology available.

"These are issues that have been discussed by the World Swimming Coaches Association for over three years, and as recently as today. I'm probably the one stupid enough to get up here and say it, but it's because I feel strongly about it. Athletes are hurt by this, athletes on my team, and something has to be done."

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