Banned From Funded Centres, Sun Yang Heads Back Down Under For Super Series

Sun Yang - a FINA star who has got no stripes for good behaviour of late - by Patrick B. Kraemer
Sun Yang - a FINA star who has got no stripes for good behaviour of late - by Patrick B. Kraemer

Banned from training at funded centres in Australia after he failed a doping test in 2014, Olympic champion Sun Yang heads a 24-strong China team bound for the 2016 Perth Aquatic Super Series against Australia and Japan at the HBF Stadium, February 5 and 6.

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Comments

Eugene

First half of the article: in case anyone forgot how bad SY and Chinese Swimming Federation are 😀

Craig Lord

No Eugene, go deeper… its to remind all those promoting swimming that they should be more aware of what they’re promoting and who they are earning their money from. I don’t find it amusing when seemingly healthy 17-year-olds die in the night and what follows is total negligence of due process and law (if there is the remotest chance of criminal involvement or institutional bad practice, autopsy should have been automatic – and that is the case in China, too, under criminal law – this was a child living on camp beyond the guardianship of her parents – I have no idea what would happen in your country under those circumstances but I know what would have happened in the 5 countries I’ve lived in – an autospy would have been performed without question and there would have been inquiry and even police inquiry depending on the results of that autopsy). I would hope you feel the same way when it comes to teenagers on national swimming camps losing their lives. The world tires of ‘let’s just enjoy sport and ignore all the bad stuff going on in our midst’ – as we see from events in football, athletics, tennis and a fair few other places, too.

Eugene

I totally agree, Craig. That’s awful.

Boron G

When the U.S., Canada, and initially the British were heavily and unfairly tainting Ye Shiwen after swimming as fast as Lochte in the last 50 m back in 2012, they overlooked the fact that record holder Stephanie Rice also did the same and later on Olympic British swimmer Rebecca Adlington did too.

Craig Lord

Boron, the US, Canada and GBR missed nothing (and neither did folk in a great many other nations) – Rice and Adlington never finished any race anywhere remotely as fast as most of their male event-contemporaries heading for a world record in an Olympic final at a pace 4sec faster than the average of their female peers (barring shiny suits the fastest female peers ever in an Olympic 400IM final) over just 100m. Your suggestion is pure and absolute nonsense.

stabilo

Craig – I imagine Boron is talking about the suggestions from ill-informed sources that Shiwen wasn’t off the charts because: 1) Steph Rice broke the WR, and her own PB, by more than Ye. This of course is irrelevant because that was going from 2007 to 2008 with the shiny suits. 2) That Adlington swam the final 100m of her 800m free (2011) faster than Lochte and Ye’s homecoming splits in the 400Im. Which also is irrelevant because they’re completely different events.

Not sure on the rules of linking things but these kinds of ignorant arguments were made repeatedly in mass media such as http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19116749 and http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/aug/02/swimmer-ye-shiwen-declining-superpowers

Craig Lord

Thanks stabilo (the points you make, spot on) – yes, I can see what he’s basing it on .. and I can see ignorance and comparing apples and pears all over the place. Only thing I can do – and will do when relevant – is to keep repeating the reasons why that swim is off the chart and a huge aberration, without any shadow of a doubt.

Boron G

Craig, I am not here to throw rubbish. I vividly recall viewing a CBC – Canadian Broadcasting Corp – superimposed footage comparing Ye Shiwen alongside Lochte in the amplified “controversial” LAST 50m (not 100m) in 2012. Four CBC announcers were making innuendos at Ye, but in that same footage it also showed Rice travelling the LAST 50m tightly on par to the two which the announcers oddly disregarded. Adlington in her own right also beat Lochte in the LAST 50m.

Boron G

Thanks stabilo for elaborating. The media and some coaches got out of hand in comparing 400m to 800m, the last 50m to overall times, and men to women times – doing no justice to competing swimmers and perpetuating a witch-hunt.

Craig Lord

Sure, Boron, I can well understand what you mean – and I am here to tell you that CBC didn’t do a good job in assessing what it was they were looking at. What they did was not valid in the sense that it skimmed the surface but provided no depth – and that isn’t my fault. I stand by what I have written. Ye’s swim was a towering aberration in the last 100m of a 400IM on the way to a world record – and while the comparison with men is valid on a level and marked a standout moment (first time a woman has come home to Olympic gold as fast as her male counterparts in the same event), the gap between Ye and her female peers tells us just how stark the aberration is – and that is where focus is best placed beyond the obvious, easy headline “Ye as fast as Lochte” etc.

Craig Lord

That may well be so, Boron, but I stand in the same place as I have stood from the moment I saw what I saw, with no witch hunt at all: Ye travelled home to a WR Olympic gold at 16 in 58.6sec over the last 100m on free – a huge aberration by any measure you care to throw up when considering the 400m medley and the standards previously set by the very best 400IMers in swimming history. By all means criticise others for bad comparisons but if they’re bad, we shouldn’t repeat them as if they count for much, that was what I was getting at in my reply to you. The fuller story also begs the question: why would a 16-year-old schoolgirl have to/need to spend 5 minutes or so in a toilet near the call room with a male team staff member before two Olympic finals she would win?
The emphasis on Ye, the young swimmer, was always extended to ‘what influences is she under’ in my reports – I think that legitimate … and I hear no answers nearly four years on.
I placed a question to Mr. Tygart of USADA on the issues of the environment athletes find themselves working in on big race day…. what point, for example, is there in spending millions trying to catch one banned substance or another if a schoolgirl can be taken into a toilet by a male staff member shortly before two Olympic finals (and no, no idea what that was about but I know a rogue result when I see one) without anyone in anti-doping/among organisers thinking anything was awry (not to mention them stepping in to defend that circumstance with facile statements saying ‘we should not question any result in the absence of a positive test’ – same people who said ‘naughty Lance, the bastard’ etc)? Mr Tygart (who I don’t recall commenting on Ye, to make that clear – nor would I expect him to have done so in his position) could only answer to anti-doping questions … the environment in which swimmers might be doped he had no answer for. Try doing similar to what very reliable witnesses confirmed happened at London 2012 at a school on sports day – heads would roll, but no worries at the Olympic Games, where the best standards of society at large appear not to apply. Hope my train of thought helps explain my position, child welfare among issues that concern me.

stabilo

I haven’t seen this CBC thing, but given that Rice swam 1.02.20 for the last 100, and Lochte/Shiwen 58.6, it seems pretty unlikely that Rice’s last 50 was as quick as them.
In either case, it’s irrelevant because she was in a shiny suit, and was some 6s slower than the equivalent man (Phelps, ~57s).

Likewise, saying Adlington beat Lochte in the last 50 in her own right is irrelevant.

(The arguments that Lochte was tired or had given up because he’d already won, are also specious: he was still 5th fastest coming home, so Shiwen was quicker than half the men in that race on the last length.)

Anyway – excellent article and serious issues raised. It will also be interesting to see where the Aussies are at, having had a taste of US strength recently.

Craig Lord

Thanks stabilo – agree with the specious, too – he was on his way to the fastest textile 400IM in history and on the way to Olympic gold is not a swimmer who simply gives up trying – he fought all the way home. Those last 400IM 50s:
30.53 – Rice in shiny suit, 2008, WR, gold, last 50m
28.93 – Ye in textile, 2012, WR, gold, last 50m

Boron G

Craig, Ye may be 16 then but she was not the youngest women’s competitor in 2012. The difference with Lance, the East Germans, and a recent Olympic scandal is that shoulda woulda coulda questions were mostly absent surrounding them before being exposed (because there was no evidence or Olympic body failings). Sure there are questions for every WR holder, but not to the same degree of negative publicity Ye got in America and U.K. The insinuations proved nothing and the best evidence comes from the lab.

Craig Lord

Boron, Ye was treated to less ‘negative publicity’ than the entire China team in 1994 and 1998, for example… really so… and we know who was right, those saying ‘something wrong here’. Think not of Ye, the swimmer, think of Ye the human being in the hands of people who might well be far more to blame about that ‘negative publicity’ than any media – and think of those beaten by aberration down very many long years. I do – and I make no excuses for it. Chile welfare by ‘only nice publicity please’ even though that may be protecting any number of rogues (as has been the case on many occasions in the past with the same cry for ‘don’t be so unfair’). Sorry, where something disturbing happens, I feel it right to point it out.

Boron G

Craig, child welfare is a non-issue no matter how one tries to turn it to such – mind you the legal working age in the U.K. is 13. Ye and younger swimmers were not restricted by their age. I would rather see genuine sportsmanship from swimmers at the hands of an irresponsible coach whom finds it easy to cry unfairness because he lost and a competitor won.

Craig Lord

Boron – the history of sport and criminal law tells us that child welfare issues are very relevant indeed. Again, I would recommend you read more on the subject and the experience of 12-16 year olds in a fair few places. Start your research with the GDR and work on from there. Beyond that, there is little point in further discussion – we won’t agree if you start from a place where you think child welfare a non-issue. As to coaches or anyone else crying foul – it is just as valid to note that silence can be a killer. I’d rather concerns were aired – that makes for a greater chance for much-needed cultural change in some dark corners.

Boron G

Craig, I was speaking in the context of Ye not the history of sport in general on ‘child welfare’. The U.S. coach was irresponsible to cry foul where tests speak to it and showed otherwise. Legitimate concerns are better directed to sporting authorities for investigation instead of hurling unfounded suggestions to media which also took advantage of the moment. I do not advocate a cultural shift to taint the winning opponent before mandatory tests.

Craig Lord

Boron – you cannot ignore dots that join like structures built to last in an earthquake zone: the history of swimming speaks to Ye and all other cases. Did a test show any GDR positive, did a test show Lance, did a test show Marion, did a test show … on and on and on. A test eventually showed why Wu Yanyan needed to be included in the ‘hall of shame’ but I was there 3 years before her positive following her and teammates for a day in France beyond the pool and watching her throw up every few minutes for the best part of two hours and being ignored by coaches and other ‘guardians’ on a tourist trail of monuments and then those coaches even sitting down to have coffee and cake when the young teenager was sitting on the edge looking very green and still throwing up, unattended, a tissue to her mouth the only aid she had. When they didn’t ignore her, they laughed at her for being sick. She looked like she needed urgent help. I asked the guide with the team to ask the coach what was wrong. The answer: maybe she ate something and anyway she’s always been ‘sickly’ since she was a young child … and this on her way to a WR of 2:09 in the 200IM in 1997. The truth was, she was being fed a cocktail of banned substances, including steroids. No idea what happened to young Wu beyond this moment: she tested positive for “19-norandrosterone” on May 15, 2000 Chinese Olympic Trials in Jinan. Coach Wu Jicai was suspended for a year and fined 4,000 yuan ($480). A ban of four years, starting on May 17, 2000 until May 16, 2004, and a fine of 8,000 yuan ($965), was imposed by the Chinese Swimming Association – the very same association that had promoted and supported all the rogue coaches and doctors backing up the massive abuse of the 1990s; the very same association that announced at Perth 1998 that Zhou Ming was banned for life – but changed the story seven years on when he was spotted at a national competition on deck coaching young athletes… “the ban was 8 years”… Ok, so why is he there after 7? No answer, no inquiry by FINA or anyone else; the information has long been in the public domain – no action, no inquiry. Five of those coaches on that walk in France were at the core of systematic doping, it would turn out – we can all but guarantee that every single member of those teams was subjected to doping at some stage. Mandatory tests picked up the tip of the iceberg of what was happening in China in the 1990s – and those who did the forensics on it and did the catching (scientists inside the sports system) were officially castigated for doing so (yes, I do have the evidence for that). Many racing on doping and many providing and supplying went free and remain celebrated as world record holders and winners and some even still coaching in senior positions, some of the swimmers themselves victims but whose enhanced efforts also made victims of others denied their rightful place. Your position is highly naive and takes no account of the realities of history nor the current status of anti-doping. Crying foul has long been an important part of getting some reaction from authorities who have shown themselves unwilling to be proactive and are almost always reactive. What kind of cultural shift would you advocate to protect young athletes who are being abused right now (and no, we do not need a positive test to tell us that that will almost certainly be true as we hurtle towards Rio 2016).
p.s it was not one US coach – the man in question is a representative for all US coaches and he had the support of many of them and many from other nations, too, as the head of the world body that represents coaches. The idea that he was speaking as a single coach is way off the mark.

Boron G

Craig, Marion tested positive but managed to clear her name through legal means. Lance tested positive multiple times in the 1999 Tour but the cycling body brushed it off. Obviously, testing will not work if people are oblivious to it. Regardless if it is Ye’s responsibility to shoulder the stigma of a predecessor, she had set herself apart so the dot did not connect. I don’t expect the U.S. coach to offer a congratulatory or apology but there has been no follow up on his hollow remark.

Craig Lord

Boron, we won’t agree: I think you are wrong and you call it wrong. You ignore way too much and excuse way too much. In the meantime, bad things are happening and you think no-one should say anything about it in the absence of a positive test. A ludicrously naive position (at best) – and one that serves to shield bad practice and damaging culture.
Marion J did not clear her name in the way you suggest. She goes down in history as someone who took banned substances – and lied on oath. She confessed and that plus what she did next helped in some ways to improve her reputation in the eyes of some. Meanwhile, the judge who sentenced her to jail time noted: “The offences here are serious. They each involve lies made three years apart,” … the same statement adding that Jones’ actions were “not a one-off mistake… but a repetition in an attempt to break the law.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7182969.stm
Testing often doesn’t work because many know how to avoid being caught; look at the pattern of when and how often some swimmers are visited, for example – it wouldn’t take a genius to work out when to be more cautious – and then there are tales of athletes saying openly ‘the man called ahead to say he was coming’ – unannounced? Well, clearly, not always.
As to dots, they do indeed join, as time will show you – you just can’t or won’t see it for now.
As to Lance A: that others are guilty absolves him not a bit for the things he is responsible for, including cheating and cheating and cheating and lying and lying and lying and some.
As to any Chinese swimmer being able to set themselves apart: the question is not about the athlete but about the influence any athlete might be under when underage or living in specific circumstances. You are talking about an environment in which the Chinese swimming association, while saying ‘we’re doing all we can to prevent doping’, allowed a banned doctor to work with a double Olympic champion on deck at a major intl championship in 2014 – they stood by and let it happen (in contravention of the WADA Code) and clearly knew what that meant because Ba Zhen was removed from the official team roster and was not accredited as an official China team member but, even so, had a full accreditation: anyone who has worked in major championship environments knows that someone in a key position must have facilitated and approved the accreditation, the travel, the presence on the deck with the ‘star’ of the Chinese team. You cannot simply apply for a pass to work with someone like Sun Yang (and that outside of China) without the authorities involved knowing about it and approving it. That is the environment in which Chinese swimmers find themselves. Ye’s story is not simply about Ye – the picture is far more complex.

Boron G

Craig, we don’t see eye to eye, but you’re exaggerating my comments. I mentioned earlier that legitimate concerns are best brought forward to authorities, which the U.S. coach failed to do but instead started a media circus that has never materialized to proving himself correct. [Comment was edited out at this point: false comparison and more pertinent, serious threat to the laws of libel – ED]

Craig Lord

I have not exaggerated your comments Boron. Your comments are there for all to see – apart from those that test libel laws beyond a point I am prepared to let you test such things on this site. The coach in question has spent the past 30 years bringing to the attention of authorities bad things… and for the most part those authorities have been reactive and weak in response or, of late in particular, have completely ignored all criticism and recommendations for change. He started no circus, media or otherwise… and the proof was as much as it needed to be – 58.6 – a huge aberration in the sport of swimming… that is what he said and he was right and that remains the case.

FYI: the media spotted it, reported on it, before he spoke, which is why the coach in question was approached, as the representative for many coaches, many of those already having spoken to him to express their concerns – his comments FOLLOWED the first media reports on Ye’s astonishing swim – the timeline of events was very clear… the media archive shows quite clearly that the story did not break because of a coach comment; it broke because of a particular swim that raised and continues to raise serious questions. My S Times report was in print before the coach was even asked for comment – and he was approached because of my reports and others already out there asking – what was that all about?! That the question remains unanswered does not make it go away.

Based on your comments left here, your thought and knowledge on the subject are not nearly deep enough to convince me that your argument is sound.

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