SWIMNEWS ONLINE: March 1998 Magazine Articles

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FINA investigations in China

In February FINA sent another delegation into China to "deal" with the latest rash of doping dilemmas. The five-member delegation included FINA Director Cornel Marculescu, Bureau members Roger Smith (AUS), Ross Wales (USA), Pipat Pangivanait (THA), and FINA Medical Committee Secretary Prof. Malcolm Cameron. The delegation was to examine, in conjunction with the Chinese Swimming Association, the results of the Chinese investigation into the positive doping cases, and to study measures to be taken to eliminate drug use in the sport.

The delegation arrived in Beijing on February 16 and held discussions with, among others, the Minister and Vice Minister of the State Commission for Physical Culture and Sports, as well as some of the swimmers who had tested positive for triamterene in Perth. Unfortunately the names of the swimmers interviewed were not released.

When "unknown" Hu Xiaowen broke a 5 1/2 year old world record for the 100-m individual medley at the World Cup in Beijing, the World Swimming Coaches Association renewed its demand for an immediate and thorough probing of all bodies concerned in the development and training of elite swimmers in China.

WSCA , while it has no criticism of the 11 safeguards suggested by China (reported 19/2/98 in FINA Media release) to combat drug use, believes that self-imposition must be supplemented by investigation by an international independent group of experts. There must be a thorough probing of what is happening in the provincial sports institutes, the youth sports schools where the use of human growth hormone is suspected, and the Army training group, which is reported to be using the sophisticated High Resolution Mass Spectrometer.

Forbes Carlile, member of the WSCA Anti-Doping Committee, was adamant that, "It may be no co-incidence that Hu trains with the Liaoning provincial team, the head-quarters of the women track athletes of Mas Army." Also of Liaoning is swimming world champion Bin Lu, who tested positive for dehydrotestosterone in September 1994. Carlile suspects that all Liaoning athletes are served by the same medical team.

"FINA should demand that an intensive investigation receive the full co-operation of the central government and be free to probe various arms of government as well as individual swimmers and coaches who they blame for the 27 positive tests from swimmers since 1991."

In late March FINA announced that Chinese swimmers testing positive for steroids will be banned for life from competition under new rules adopted by the Chinese Swimming Federation.

Doping Task Force

As promised in Perth, FINA announced the makeup of the task force that is to examine the issues and concerns related to doping and make recommendations for future courses of action.

The 10 members of the Task Force are as follows:

The Task Force met for the first time in Lausanne on March 5-6 to examine and make recommendations on things such as improving the co-ordination of research being conducted the world over, the development and improvement of co-ordination and consistency of national and international policies. Other issues to be discussed were the transport and trafficking of banned substances, and detection problems, both present and future.

Aussie tests positive

In a case reminiscent of that of Samantha Riley, Australian swimmer Richard Upton tested positive last month for the banned drug probenecid. A relay silver medallist at the world championships this year, Upton claims the drug was prescribed by his doctor as part of an antibiotic treatment for a chest infection and tonsillitis. He did not, however, declare the drug on the drug testing form.

While probenecid can be used with penicillin to fight serious infections, it can also be used as a masking agent for steroids. Upton and his supporters claim that his doctor made a mistake, and that Upton himself was so sick that the slip was understandable.

As any kind of sanction could affect his grant money, Upton plans to defend the drug charge to the end.

The case will be ruled on by Australian Swimming before going on to FINA, the Australian Olympic Committee, and the Australian Sports Commission for review. If any of these bodies rule against him, Upton could take the case further to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Coach Forbes Carlile, of whose club Upton is a member, has indicated he is worried that Upton will be made an example of, but maintains that there is "absolutely nothing to hide." It was a mess up, and that's it.

One would have thought that Riley's case would have served as a lesson.

Trials get underway in Berlin

Court proceedings against four swimming coaches and two doctors accused of administering anabolic steroids to underage athletes in the former East Germany got underway in Berlin on March 18. The atmosphere in the packed courtroom was tense and staunchly defensive; former East German officials, including former leader Egon Krenz, insisted that the trials were based on jealousy and a desire for revenge by the West Germans, who were less successful in sports than the East Germans.

200 in 2000

University of Toronto's Coach Byron MacDonald has come up with a formula for the success of Canada's male sprinters heading into the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

"200 in 2000" is the shortened version of "200 seconds in 2000," the 200 seconds equivalent to an average of 50 seconds flat for the men's 4x100 freestyle relay.

"It's just a way to try to motivate the sprinters in the country to qualify a team for 2000," said MacDonald. "If we can average 50.00 for the four legs we can challenge and quite possibly win a medal."

The slogan would make a handsome T-shirt. Now it's up to our sprinters to meet the challenge.

Comeback maybe

1992 Olympic gold medallist Evgeni Sadovyi is planning a comeback. Only 25 years old, Sadovyi has been training since October with Viktor Advienko in Volgograd, he's concentrating in the 100-200 free. In Barcelona, Sadovyi won the 200 free (1:46.70), the 400 free (3:45.00), and anchored the winning 4x200 free relay.

Must have struck a nerve

Dave Johnson complained that CIAU swimming is "stuck in the mud," and suggested an "A" final only format. This outraged several coaches including University of Toronto's Byron MacDonald. "That is an absolute crock," he said. "This is not a meet designed to develop Olympic champions. This is a meet designed for the entire body of university athletes. We're not here to see one or two athletes succeed. We're here to see the 15th place person succeed. I really don't think Swimming/Natation Canada should be sticking its nose in and telling us how to run the meet."

Woman turned into a man

Former East German female shot-put champion Heidi Kruger is suing the former team doctor for over-prescription of anabolic steroids. Krieger, who changed his name to Andreas, had two operations recently to complete the woman-to-man process. Krieger had developed masculine characteristics including facial hair. Krieger was forced to take anabolic steroids in the 1980s and was told that they were vitamins.

Records muddle

When Michael Klim established a world short course record for the 100 fly at the Sydney World Cup last January with 51.07, James Hickman, GBR, finished second with 51.40, supposedly an European record. However LEN (Ligue European de Natation) received insufficient documentation from the French Federation and the time could not be ratified.

Franck Esposito won the French Interclubs with 51.63, still faster than the existing European record by Denis Pankratov of 51.78, but the French Federation didn't apply for the record swim, knowing about Hickman's faster time.

Now Hickman gets another chance as he won the World Cup 100 fly in Sheffield (March 16) in 51.56, again under the existing record.

One that got away

Michael Klim, Australia's current swimming superstar, was swimming in Canada at age 11. His parents had left Poland and Michael was a member of Etobicoke Swimming and was TAG ranked in 1989. In the winter season his best short course time for the 100 fly was 1:11.73, and ranked him 22nd in Canada. In the 100 free his time of 1:03.48 ranked him 31st. He swam in one long- course meet in April and posted a 1:05.63 for 100 free and 1:13.36 in the 100 fly. Nine years later he is the world record holder for the 100 fly long course with 52.15 and short course 51.07.

More valuable than gold

Chinese swimmer Yuan Yuan's luggage was searched at the Sydney airport in January and was found to be carrying human growth hormone that, according to The Economist Magazine, February 21, 1998, has a value far superior to gold. A gram of gold is worth US $10-15 while human growth hormone, as synthesised by Genentech, sells for the equivalent of more than US $20,000 a gram. (There are 1,000 grams in a kilo).


I decided to go to the University of Florida not because of the money. I would have made more money if I had stayed in Canada, as SNC/Sport Canada would have paid my tuition because I am carded.

The reason I left is because there was nowhere in Canada where I could go to school and race every day in practice against Olympic gold medalIists. At the University of Florida I trained with Nicole Haislett, Allison Wagner, Janie Wagstaff, Ashley Tappin, Anthony Nesty, Martin Zubero, Greg Burgess, and many other Olympians from all over the world. I learned more from training with Nicole and Anthony than I have ever learned from any coach. Training with and against these swimmers taught me how to be a tougher swimmer mentally and physically.

At Florida I was coached by Chris Martin and Skip Foster, two of the best coaches in the world.

On top of providing me with a world class training environment, as an athlete at the university I was allowed to register for classes before the rest of the student body, assuring me the classes and times I needed. I had access to tutors for my classes, and doctors, trainers, and advisors that made my life as uncomplicated as possible so that I could concentrate on swimming fast and at the same time get my college degree.

Racing in the NCAA made me a tough competitor who learned how to swim fast every time I stood up on the blocks.

Although I am currently injured and have been so for the past three years, going to Florida was the best thing for my swimming career; I had my highest world rankings and highest international finishes while swimming at Florida.

I transferred to Brown two years ago to concentrate on my studies and, as it is an Ivy League school, I don't have an athletic scholarship.

My advice to swimmers looking at the NCAA is this: use the system to make you better. You don't have to go to the States for the full four years, maybe a couple of years is all one needs to learn how to be tough and race fast. Swimming in the NCAA is very competitive and will give any Canadian swimmer, no matter how fast, the opportunity to get better. The experience gained from racing the best swimmers in the world cannot be duplicated anywhere else on such a regular basis as daily workouts and in-season dual meets.

A lot of people told me not to go to the States. I battled every day for a year with my club coach about leaving Canada, but going to Florida was the best thing I ever did for my development as a swimmer and a person.

Nikki Dryden
Brown University


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