Doping? We Wouldn’t Know Where To Start!

Jon Rudd and Ruta Meilutyte celebrated gold and a world record at the 2013 World Championships [photo: Patrick Kraemer]

Coach Jon Rudd, mentor to Ruta Meilutyte and head of the Plymouth Leander & Plymouth College swimming programme where the Lithuanian Olympic and World Champion is based in an environment that largely caters for teenage school children, responds to the view that most winners in swimming are ‘likely’ to have doped

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Coach Jon Rudd, mentor to Ruta Meilutyte and head of the Plymouth Leander & Plymouth College swimming programme where the Lithuanian Olympic and World Champion is based in an environment that largely caters for teenage school children, responds to the view that most winners in swimming are ‘likely’ to have doped


Clive Rushton

Great interview. I love the closing paragraph 🙂


Doping in swimming is a very tricky thing. Swimming is a unique sport in terms of the environment (liquid). The most important thing in swimming is how athletes communicate with water. Excessive strength gives an advantage only if athletes know how to apply it. One thing doping can really help with is the recovery. But with the amount of legal supplements on the market its not a big problem to replicate the effect of doping almost 100%. Just find a knowledgeable and professional nutritionist. And when people say that its impossible that times now are so much faster than even 10 years ago, the reason for that is that the approach to the training process is a lot more professional than even 10 years ago. I think there is enough material for a huge article on how swimming has evolved over the past 20 years. And not only swimming – sport in general.


Unfortunatly I am less confident in the doping status of swimming.

If several scientific studies suggest at least a doping level of approximatly 10 to 15 % of athletes, but the Wada test regimes find less than 0,1% positiv results the logical conclusion is, that up to date doping can not be identified with the current methodology.

And about the idea to repeat the tests many years later with more advanced methods: the IOC did that for the 2004 Olympics with a statistical sample of app. 150 of 3000 urine samples. They found more than 10 positiv results, which I think is a significant result. But instead to analyze all the remaining samples too, the IOC simply stopped!!

My personal opinion: the current anti doping regime is not meant to prohibit doping, it is meant to provide credibility for a business, where more and more money is made.

And if science fails to find anything (zero results in Barcelona is ridiculous) we are only left with our common sense: swimmers with zero percent body fat and female athletes with more muscles than Kristin Otto in 1988 I simply find suspicious.

FINA has proven in the case of a well known Brasilian world champion that a positive test with doping ban must be prevented under all circumstances if the stakes are too high.


I would rather admit that all those people on the top take steroids! Its just a great excuse why I didnt get there 🙂 But the problem is that I know for myself that my training was far from perfect but I still managed to become pretty fast. And considering that there are people far more talented than me and training smarter than me… It is possible to swim fast without illegal assistance. Not sure about 8 gold olympic medals though. With the level of competition in every event it seems way beyond possible. No names…

Bill Bell

I have no personal knowledge of anybody juicing of not.

But can you imagine the shame, the embarrassment and the possible legal consequences if Franklin or Ledecky or Natalie or anybody were to get caught?

It’d make L’Afsire Armstrong seem like chicken feed!

No reputable lab is going to look the ther way if a positive shows up. their reputation and business would go right down the drain.

As for no positives @ Barcelona.. Why not. People may have taken “performance enhancer s” but they were all legit. Nothing wrong w/that.

Not necessarily so.

Lol. In this pic they both look the same. Rute is prettier thanks to her traditional Lithuanian colouring.


Bill Bell,

No positive test does not mean anything.
Professional tennis has only one or two positive tests every year, and often zero positive. But people are insane if they think professional tennis are clean, what with the incredible amount of money thrown at the top tennis players.

No Chinese swimmer was tested positive in 1994 Rome or 1998 Worlds.
Flo Jo never tested positive, and I understand Carl Lewis tested positive once but was protected by USATF.

Witness the Operation Puerto in Spain, where the judge Santamaria refused to hand over the documents and blood samples recovered from the clinic of doctor Fuentes to WADA and Spanish anti doping agency, and in fact ordered the blood bags and the documents to be destroyed. Although Fuentes has offered to name every athletes on the blood samples, the judge ordered him that he was under no obligation to do so. Fuentes has said that his clients include top football players, cyclists, tennis players, etc. This shows that in some countries their courts and governments even protected their star athletes.
But we know that no spanish football or tennis players has ever tested positive.

The job of the national sporting federations and governing world sports organizations is to increase the value of their products and assets, and that means their top stars.
UCI, allegedly [ED],knew Armstrong was doping, but they covered it because Armstrong was their biggest star.

I do enjoy the super performances in Barcelona by Ledecky, Franklin, Efimova, Campbell, Pedersen, Friis, Meilutyte, Hosszu, etc.
But if one day any of them is caught testing positive to PED, I won’t be in the least bit surprised.
I am not a cynic but I am not naive either.


Meilutyte looks already very physically strong and developed for her age. I wonder if she can make much improvement in her late teens and 20s.
In comparison, Leisel Jones was infamous for not really doing dry and weight training. Only after she changed coach after her devastating “failure” in 2004 Athens, and trained under Stephan Widmar, she spent more weight training. She claimed in the media that she the maximum chin-ups she was able to do when starting with Widmar was THREE!
And then she changed coach again.
Just before London, there was a huge criticism against an australian newspaper who published a not so flattering photo of Jones who made her look kinda fat.

Craig Lord

Josh (thanks for being gracious and open to open discussion – much needed), I agree with that thought on legal supplements being able to achieve the same enhancement as banned substances. I think that is well off the truth: there is no legal supplement that can make a swimmer finish a world-class 400m swim like they just left the blocks (but if anyone knows of one, do let us know). I also agree with the last thought but happen to believe that Jon Rudd is genuine (and if he were ever to join the dark side, I know him to be patriotic enough to make sure Britain was a ‘beneficiary’, so to speak … I see no evidence of that at all). I also think that anti-doping authorities – and more to the point those who ‘control’ them, such as federations – are well shy of a full-on commitment to catching cheats, now or by back-testing – as Markus suggests.


Marion Jones and Armstrong did NOT “come clean”.

Craig Lord

Hi aswimfan, I think that reference by a reader speaks to the definition of ‘come clean’ as ‘confessed’. And both of those athletes did, to some extent at least (even if we may not have heard the full tale from them and even though both took their time in getting there and were forced to get there), confess.


Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think “forced by court of justice” is “come clean”


An important point regarding Marion Jones: She wasn’t jailed for doping, she was sent to prison for lying to a US grand jury.

I think the testing regime in swimming is pretty good and I like the idea of the blood passport. I do think that, for the most part, the athletes involved are clean.

I am, I am ashamed to admit, biased against Chinese athletes. I am not proud of the bias but given their history and the role that athletics have in Communist ideology, I maintain that there is a fairly high probability that doping is more widespread there than elsewhere.

I also think, too, that those of us who have been around the sport for a long time can pick out one or two examples where we’re fairly certain something strange is going on. I’ve never suspected Michael Phelps. He’s been a consistent performer since he was very young and he’s always had very heavy programmes at the meets he’s done.

I confess that I’ve never believed an athlete can retire after the 1984 Games, come back 16 years later and dominate again, retire again and come back 8 years later when she’s 40 and dominate once more.

Craig Lord

Ted, I think a lot of people might well agree with all of that


Ted Baker,

I agree with a lot of what you say.

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