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Bousquet Threatens Shanghai Boycott

Mar 28, 2011  - Craig Lord

Fred Bousquet has placed himself on a collision course with the French federation by threatening to boycott Shanghai world titles if his coach at Auburn, Brett Hawke, is not on the deck in China as part of the France contingent. 

In L'Equipe this morning, Bousquet is quoted as saying: "Only bloody idiots don't change their minds. When I am faced with people who don't share my values, communication ceases." Bousquet confirms that Christian Donzé, national technical director for France, would not change his view because he did not wish to unsettle the core group of coaches working under the guidance of team manager and coach Lionel Horter. 

Would he go to Shanghai, the sports paper asks Bousquet? "No... We'll see... Probably not. If Brett is not there, I do not see why I would be there. I need to uphold my values … instilled in me, learned from my parents, those closest to me. If I bend I have to live with ideas that are not mine and that I do not accept, and I'm no longer a man. It is not the example which I want to give to my daughter [Manon was born to Laure Manaudou and Bousquet a year ago]. If today there is not resolution so that Brett is at the edge of the pool in Shanghai, this means that I am going to stop - its simple."

He said he was no longer prepared to "accept ideas and rules that they impose on me". Was it simply a threat? No," said Bousquet, , who at Rome 2009 world title claimed silver in the 50m freestyle and bronze in the 100m freestyle, in both cases behind Auburn teammate and champion Cesar Cielo (BRA). "It is my actual state of soul. Yesterday evening [Saturday], I cried like a kid in my room, in my bed, all alone … I did not want to swim. I woke up with another frame of mind but this changes nothing in reality. 

"The DTN [federation] has offered to pay the plane ticket for Brett so that he is in Shanghai. I am not selling a carpet, this is elite sport. I need time to reflect, to find a possible solution."

Asked why his Marseilles coach Roman Barnier would not suffice as a guide in Shanghai, Bousquet said: "Roman is not on the same strategy as the one that I set up with Brett. He already has four athletes qualified for World championships [Gilot, Lacourt, Mallet, Meynard]. At my age, because I feel the need, I ask for a lot of attention. Some people see it as a defect, me I see it as a frame of mind." After a pause, he adds: "Besides I am heading to what is perhaps my last podium in swimming…".

There seems little hope of a solution at this stage. Donzé told French reporters: "I spoke with Fred and I explained my point of view to him. As a selector, I want him [Bousquet] to be part of the France team.  Right now, our collective of coaches must represent the French model. It works well, so there is no reason to select people from outside [France]."

Meanwhile, Donzé has declared himself satisfied with results at French nationals. Selection policies allowed for swimmers who reached the podium at European Championships last year to be pre-selected for Shanghai world titles this summer. Some of those made up the 21 swimmers to race inside the time cut at trials this week past. 

French reporters raised the hot topic of the 100m freestyle with Donzé: Olympic champion Alain Bernard and Yannick Agnel - both out. "Last year, it was case for Frédérick Bousquet and Fabien Gilot," said the director. "Our level is such that a process in which only two can go will inevitably lead to disappointment for someone. Its a harsh reality … Alain Bernard was 4th in the test and should be disappointed. Yannick Agnel is ambitious, he also wanted to line up in the 100m. For me, they will be important weapons in the 4x100m relay."