Park Tae-hwan* Makes It A Double, The Trouble With His Success A FINA Blindspot

Park Tae-hwan* celebrates his second gold in Windsor - by Patrick B. Kraemer

Windsor world s/c titles: So often the man with the Midas Touch, Chad Le Clos has good reason to think himself cursed over 200m freestyle this year. First it was Olympic silver a slither behind Sun Yang* at Rio 2016, now silver behind Park Tae-hwan* in the little pool

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ITR

You really speak harshly of Park. I, for once, believe he really is “innocent”. Just doesn’t make sense. Why would you take testosterone? I mean at this level if you wanna dope you take something else, something much better, no? Also, Koreans aren’t really famous of letting cases like this one go if the person is guilty. But I don’t know. I’m more suspicious of the 4th place finisher, I mean how the hell can you improve almost 3 seconds over your entry time in the 200? 400 I’d say okay. But 200…

Craig Lord

I don’t speak harshly of Park, ITR: he is responsible for his own actions and the choices he made when it came to medical care as a world-class elite athlete. I ask questions and I voice the concerns of a great many folk out there in the world of swimming who want Fair Play and don’t think they’re getting it. That is legitimate and reasonable. What a great many are saying, thinking and talking about in swimming hangs on the peg of 2016. Trust has been eroded to a point where the cliff face is about to collapse into the sea. I do speak harshly of the custodians of the sport. And they deserve it.

ITR

In that case, I get it and agree, they really do deserve it. Maybe I had my initial thoughts because he was the example and I’m on his side in this one since to me his offense doesn’t add up.
But boy, have I lost trust towards the athletes of those nations which have a long history in systematic, “government sponsored” doping programs.

clive rushton

Blindspot is a very accurate description of FINA’s method of steering the sport.

A few days ago FINA held a ‘World Medicine Congress’ in Windsor, Ontario as part of their World Aquatics Convention. Session 4 was ‘The Science and Medicine of Anti-Doping’, chaired by the Sports Medicine Committee member for Uruguay, Dr. Jose Veloso.
Presenters comprised Professor Anne Snowden (CAN) who talked about innovative PED tracking, Professor David Gerrard (NZL) on T.U.E. Guidelines, and Professor Jordi Segura (ESP), who is the new chair of the FINA Doping Control Review Board.

Professors Snowden’s and Gerrard’s presentations were informative and instructive but Professor Segura’s topic was FINA’s Anti-Doping Strategy so I expected great things … light at the end of the tunnel, faith restored, A New Dawn, and all that.

Alas and alack. Dr. Segura said nothing of note.

At the conclusion of the presentations the audience were asked for questions. Silence.

Except for me.

I pointed out that there were two, 500 lb – gorillas in the room which everyone was ignoring:

1) The unprecedented booing of convicted drug cheats by fellow competitors in Rio: a dismal reflection on the inadequacy of both FINA and the IOC to take decisive leadership action prior to the Games.

2) The fact that the FINA Executive Director was on public record saying it was OK if the top swimmers were doping and, in effect, saying they should not be sanctioned for it.

I ended my comments by asking for the views of the panel, particularly Professor Segura, on my observations.

Silence. Hurried whispering in ears by some panel members to Dr. Veloso and Professor Segura. Awkward stances on the stage. People looking at their feet. Professor Segura announced that he couldn’t understand the question so I repeated it word for word. He then said, “It is not my responsibility to answer questions about Cornel.”

Pressed to elaborate he gave a totally bland, non-informative response and the ‘party’ was wrapped up quickly by Dr. Veloso.

A colleague crept up behind me and whispered, “So no one answered your questions?”

Then I was surrounded by three FINA heavyweights who proceeded to justify banning individuals rather than States or Nations; pointing out that banning Nations meant that ‘innocent’ swimmers were caught up in the net; and emphasizing on more than one occasion that, “I am a lawyer.”

It’s actually very clear and systematic, isn’t it? An individual cheats: ban the individual. A team cheats: ban the team. A nation cheats: ban the nation.

We dissolved the press-gang and each went on our merry way. Later that night I fell badly and sustained a rather severe injury to my leg. Was I pushed or did I jump? Only joking about the push/jump thing.

Blindspot? Definitely. FINA as an entity is in total denial of the problem.

Craig Lord

Clive, thank you for that valuable insight. It sounds all too familiar. It is precisely the kind of attitude and stance and turning of blind eyes that has left every single GDR performance and every Chinese performance of the 1990s on the books, regardless of the very clear evidence that performances were achieved on a diet of steroids, epo, HgH and much else besides. The victims are on both sides, the health of young people shattered, for many for the rest of there lives (and indeed some actually lost their lives) and the mental health and related harm suffered by those denied their rightful place in sports history – and all the while FINA has been a body that has singularly failed to deal with any of it and has acted – experts as much as politicians in some regards – as if cheating is a side show for which they not only take no responsibility but feel the need to defend cheating and the lack of their ability and desire to deal with it.

clive rushton

” … as if cheating is a side show for which they not only take no responsibility but feel the need to defend cheating and the lack of their ability and desire to deal with it.”

Spot on, Craig.

FabiOS

Come on ITR: Dylan Carter is a 20 y.o. boy. Big improvements can happen at that age. Maybe he also changed his training schedule, coach, city…i don’t know. I can’t see nothing too suspicious in his result

ITR

Doesn’t matter how old someone is at this level. By this logic it would have been okay if, let’s say, Thorpe had swum 1.41 in the 200 free in Sydney because he was young? 🙂 Exaggeration, of course, but you get the point. The dude went from good to like world class in one meet. Maybe he did all those plus changed his doctor. 😀 Maybe he didn’t. 1.45 to 1.42 at least catches my attention.

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