Ye controversy overshadows Phelps’ historic bid

Ye controversy overshadows Phelps’ historic bid

LONDON - Hürriyet Daily News
Ye controversy overshadows Phelps’ historic bid

AFP Photo

It was a day when Michael Phelps was bidding to become the most decorated Olympian of all time, but controversy surrounding Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen dominated the headlines about the London Games yesterday.

Ye Shiwen, 16, won the 400-meter Individual Medley race last week five seconds inside her personal best, with the last 50 meters faster than American Ryan Lochte, who won the equivalent men’s event in the second best time in history.

However, John Leonard said he was suspicious about whether the Chinese prodigy was using performance-enhancing drugs.

“We want to be very careful about calling it doping,” Leonard, executive director of the World Swimming Coaches Association, told Guardian. “The one thing I will say is that history will tell you that every time we see something - and I will put quotation marks around this - ‘unbelievable,’ history shows us that it turns out later on there was doping involved.”

‘Never used drugs’

Ye issued a quick denial on July 30, telling the China News Service: “My results come from hard work and training and I would never use any banned drugs.”

The British Olympic Association chairman Lord Colin Moynihan came to Ye’s defense, saying the swimmer had passed drug tests, was “clean” and deserved recognition for her talent.

Lord Moynihan told a news conference that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was “on top of the game.”

“She’s been through WADA tests and she’s clean. That’s the end of the story. Ye deserves recognition for her talent,” he said.

Swimer Ian Thorpe, winner of five Olympic golds, was against rushing to judgment.

“Young swimmers can take off chunks of time that other swimmers can’t,” Agence France-Presse quoted him as saying.

Former British Olympic champion Adrian Moorhouse said the rumors appeared to be a case of sour grapes. “The Chinese might have just found this really talented kid, who can work really hard, has the perfect shape and can cope with all the pressure thrown at her,” he told the BBC.

China’s swimming team was hit by scandals in the 1990s. Seven swimmers tested positive for drugs in the 1994 Asian Games, and four years later four Chinese swimmers failed drug tests before the World Championships.

Chen Zhanghao, who headed the Chinese Olympic medical team in Los Angeles, Seoul and Barcelona, told Australian daily The Sun that China had cleaned up its act in the 1990s and that it would now be “impossible” for an elite Chinese athlete to get away with deliberate doping.

“Abnormal?”, asked Chen. “Phelps broke seven world records! Is he normal? I suspect Phelps, but without evidence, I have to recognize that we should be grounded in facts.”

Phelps had broken his first world record at 15. “Michael Phelps is a phenomenal swimmer,” British multiple short-course world champion Mark Foster said. “Is she the Chinese Michael Phelps? Why not?”
Phelps has gone on to win 17 Olympic medals, 14 of them gold. He was two medals away from overtaking Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina’s record haul of 18 yesterday, before competing in 200-meter butterfly and 4x200-meter relay.