Libby Trickett Stands Up For Aussie Swimmers Told To ‘Shut Up’ By Their Fed

Miami Mix - a cocktail that didn't work for some of Australia's top swimmers - images by Patrick B. Kraemer, Craig Lord (Fraser-Holmes) and Rod Gilmour (Sun's smashed locker at Kazan 2015)

Libby Trickett, the 2008 Olympic champion, has backed her fellow Australian swimmers in the face of a warning issued by Swimming Australia in the wake of a poolside protest at Miami when Chinese swimmers joined the program in large numbers

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Libby Trickett, the 2008 Olympic champion, has backed her fellow Australian swimmers in the face of a warning issued by Swimming Australia in the wake of a poolside protest at Miami when Chinese swimmers joined the program in large numbers



Pardon me for sounding a discordant note but whilst there is some credence in what Trickett is saying; what business is it of hers ? She is no longer an active competitor and what is one of the easiest traps for the retired sportsperson than to become a “rentaquote” for the media; a “go to” for the media for comment when there is some issue or scandal concerning their old sport (or sometimes any sport) whether they are informed on the issue or not. Certain former swimmers are infamous in this regard.

Sadly, some athletes/sportsperson and/or their coaches or ‘spokespeople AREN’T disciplined when it comes to their tongues and sadly some have particular agendas of their own (some less than savoury) which is why these advisories are an unfortunate reality much as we would wish otherwise.

Does SAL have a duty to address the issue of convicted dopers ?? Absolutely. Is it remotely possible anything constructive can be achieved whilst the Murdoch hounds are playing their political game ? Excuse me whilst they clear the pigs for take-off on Runway One !

Craig Lord

CW… FINA once said that about Shane Gould when she stood on a platform in Australia to campaign for clean sport… what business is it of hers… ‘she has no platform…” etc, is what I heard. If Shane Gould has no platform in swimming in Australia, then best close every pool tomorrow. Sorry but I do think former athletes have a clear role to play in speaking up on issues that should matter to all athletes who want clean sport, current or retired.
I understand what you’re saying and think we all get the need for team discipline… which takes us to the point I’m making: if SAL want their swimmers to focus solely on their own performance and get the benefit of so doing, for self and country, then it needs to fill the void of silence with words and stands that show it has guts and the things that hang below guts, starting with enforcing its own rules and telling us whether it is doing anything about Mr King, a suspended coach who continues to be associated with squads that include 16 and under (regardless of nationality – it is happening in Australia) and whether it has found time not just to write ‘shut up’ notes to swimmers but to have a word with DC and ask ‘so, did you coach Sun that day and do you continue to play a part in his coaching…’ If I were an Aussie taxpayer, I’d want to know.


Sorry Craig but the likes of our so-called “national treasure” and every other rent-a-quote former sportsperson (many of them long retired)’cruel the pitch’ for anyone who may speak up on something legitimate as Trickett probably is in this instance.

My point is that Murdoch media have their own agenda and swimming and clean swimming at that ain’t heading the priorities and further comment is just feeding that and not actually advancing any solution.

Regrettably, this isn’t going to be fully resolved pre Olympics much as we would wish otherwise. AUS is only part of the equation of something that has to be brought under international protocols.

Has DC become far too big for his boots ? One has to think Yes but one doubts they will bring him to heel until after Rio ……. where perchance he may have some other questions to answer.

Craig Lord

CW – feds should see these things coming; and deal with them, so the blazer speaks and acts and the swimmer does not have to. It is relatively simple if you remove the patting of backs and the going along to get along culture. The situation should never have been allowed to develop as it has – it was, as I wrote at the beginning of the first article ‘only a mater of time…’.


Sadly that is a world that should be not the world that exists in reality. IF the money was sufficient from SAL, ASC then the incentive (some might say imperative) would not be there for coaches to take the foreign coin ….. but it isn’t.

Even the Podium Centre funding for the very top squads doesn’t stretch as far many would think when one takes all the various overheads involved. Even that is no life raft when one loses access to a training facility as was the case with one Podium Centre (Nudgee – Matt Brown).

Is this problem (that of funding) likely to go away ? No it isn’t. The days of plenty when it comes to sports funding in AUS are well and truly over and its only likely to get much tighter. Rio may well be a further ‘fall from grace’ for AUS and entire sports are likely to culled for any future funding. Even if swimming has a better return than London, it will not be a case of increased $$$ but rather keeping what you’ve got.

SAL has lost major corporate sponsorship in recent years and even their current “fairy godmother” comes with unpleasant snags. Namely those of dealing with one of the most litigious individuals in the nation and a reputation for capriciousness in both business and personal dealings. Those lovely $$ may disappear ….. just like that

Craig Lord

CW – understand those arguments – they apply universally and much worse in some places (no Australia’s problem, of course) but none of that excuses tolerating bad practice and rogues in your midst – and I think if older athletes want to speak out on such issues, they should be free to do so. They are brought up in places like Australia, Europe, etc being told that freedom of speech is a key part of our democracy … and then they make a national team and everyone says ‘military culture in place – shut up, no matter how bad things get’. I don’t think that’s right, CW. It promotes a culture in which athletes feel disempowered and unable to report bad behaviour of many kinds all the way to the worst of it, doping abuse and sexual abuse in the mix far too often down the years in swimming history.


Oh yeah…Don Talbot was not adverse at all to raise hell whenever he saw injustice or unfairness at play…


As a born and bred Aussie, I am outraged by this outrageous shut your mouth mentality, we speak our minds here at all costs, ban the drug cheats from training here and anywhere else, end of story!


Gheko, whilst I agree with the principle; the reality is that the public basically tunes it all out … and why ? Because of the ‘rent a quotes’ who may speak their minds (such as they exist) but talk a load of shite or the attention seekers still craving the limelight ! Sadly this is common across most sports, Australia is far from the only country where this syndrome is found …… and the public reaction remains the same.

The only way the issue in question WILL ever be resolved is for there to be formal protocols in place between parent federations and host nations for all swimmers training outside their home countries with the probable exception of NCAA/students. The issue of course is whether FINA (or even any successor body) as well as major swimming nations have the intelligence or the balls to address it

Craig Lord

CW, I don’t think you can say (I don’t think you are but even so) Libby T is talking ‘shite’ – she’s making a good point, it seems to me.


Strange argument, CW. Who is Ms. Trickett NOT to speak her mind? Who are any of us not to speak our minds?

And, given her knowledge of- and proximity to- the context and players, I would she is in a unique place to voice her opinion. I wish more current and especially ex-athletes, who are no longer tethered to team code, would speak up about silly and sinister federation rules.


Commonwombat, sorry but this is a very bizarre view you are taking. Something that no one has brought up is that Mrs Trickett did not just simply retire into an abyss after her exceptional swimming career ended, but certainly up until recent years was heavily involved in the Australian Swimmers Association Executive Committee which is an independent body run by former swimmers, for swimmers, to provide representation (including legal), to protect swimmers’ interests and rights, to champion welfare issues, ensuring representation for swimmers on all levels of governance, advocating on behalf of swimmers requiring assistance in negotiating contracts etc. So I think she has more than earned her right to speak on behalf of other swimmers.

This organisation (and other athlete associations) do some very vital work in representing athletes who are quite often young, inexperienced, desperate to not “rock the boat” (otherwise they will get “cut”), and finding themselves up against very powerful regional, state and national federations. Unfortunately, if the sport was not littered with ex-swimmers that had not been used and abused, whether it be by their local coaches and clubs, or powerful sporting federations, then the need for advocacy would not exist. Sadly it still does.


Bravo Libby!! I hope this has paved the way for many more to speak up.

Why is it do you think that people talk to the media in the first instance? A plethora of unanswered emails and non returned calls over important issues perhaps? Of course everyone has their own agendas, so what these swimmers in this scenarioare adults.

I would like to see more swimmers speak up now, its a good and I believe healthy thing to happen and the sport will be the better for it. SAL may not like the route it’s taken but perhaps that’s a kindly reminder to them to answer emails and to make that phone call to concerned parties.

Cheating is never ok.

Craig Lord

Good point about the position Libby T holds, h2tk. Thanks for the reminder

Peter James

What a sad state of affairs that elite swimming in Australia is now more about political minefields and agendas than actual sport.
Good on the retired swimmers for standing up and trying to point out where things are going wrong – current and prospective swimmers and their families are certainly unable to do so because the consequences for such actions are spelt out quite clearly by SAL.
Young swimmers are exposed to blatant cheating and have nowhere to turn to air their concerns except to their families who are equally disempowered to act. The psychological burden for these young people can be quite devastating. But apparently swimming politics and the grasping for medals by federations trumps everything.
Shame, shame.

swimmers advocate

I wonder how CW’s “litigious fairy godmother” feels about funding the blatantly cheating Australian para swimmers to the order of tens of thousands of Aus dollars?


CW whilst i agree with you to a point its easy for newshounds to put a microphone under former athletes on a slow day, this is different if nobody speaks out how can there be change, good on Libby and others for having the courage to speak out on this its important people realize we are not happy, and will not be quiet!


Meanwhile in American athletics, no one is telling Alysia Montano to shut up-–oly.html

Craig Lord

At the official summit, no less, beachmouse 🙂


I wonder how US taxpayers feel about funding the blatantly cheating American track and field athletes to the order of tens of thousands of US dollars.


Taxpayers don’t directly fund the USOC or other national sports federations. The feds got out of that business in, I think the 70s, and the USOC, UAATF, USAS, etc. operate as private non-profit entities. (They get some tax breaks like all registered non-profits; if you’re ever really, really bored, go look for the latest USAS IRS Form 990, read the executive compensation section and ponder if Chuck is worth his listed salary.)

Part of the problem right now with USATF is that they’ve got a way too cozy relationship with certain sponsors that they rely on heavily for organizational revenue.


Is it possible to impose further sanctions on athletes that have already served their sentences? Whilst morally, it would have many supporters, legally, it would likely fail?


Ger, not for the same offence unless new evidence has came to hand which clearly shows a far greater level of culpability. For a totally new “reading”/transgression; go for broke !

Mark Johnston

Swimmers advocate & CW cheating is cheating right? What then is the difference between athletes using performance-enhancing substances, blood doping, hidden technological boosters or intentional misrepresentation? There is none. What is the difference between a 16 yr old Chinese female swimmers suspected of doping and a 16 ur old swimmer suspected of going slow for an easier classification? There is none.

The Australian swimmers being called out for Intentional Misrepresentation need to face the consequences of their actions. SA should be in a position to put their hand up and say ‘yes, our swim team are clean’ SA cannot do that. It is time that the media treat elite disabled sport the same as their able bodied counter parts. They are not inspirations there purely to excite the world as the IPC would like us to believe – they are athletes first and foremost or they should be. I am fed up with this rule for one and not the other approach when it comes to cheating. You really would be very surprised to learn of the total amount of $AUD that the main culprits have received from SA sponsors, Aussie tax payers & personal sponsors. Think along the lines of well over $50k per annum. it is an Australian disgrace and before anyone comments that it’s just a game and is as prevalent in other countries, I pay tax in Australia. My children are involved in sport in Australia. I am embarrassed, shamed, offended to see this happen in our great country that prides itself in sport and a fair go.

Craig Lord

I appreciate your frustration, Mark but there is a big difference: one of the athletes in your first scenario is being physically and mentally abused by those around her; she is having her health and long-term welfare damaged. There are lots of differences in the comparison you make. The one thing in common: cheating.

Mark Johnston

Craig, thanks but young swimmers pretending to be disabled or more disabled does not bode well for a happy and secure future by any stretch of the imagination. Their long-term welfare is being damaged. They are being mentally abused within a system meant to protect them, I mean what 14,15,16 and now aged 17 year old comes up with the idea to pretend to be disabled for fame and financial gain? That too is mental abuse. Yes agreed, they are not being pumped full of illegal substances but they are being abused for the same end result – winning. To be flippant, I always imagined an Eastern country to come up with the idea of ‘body farming’ for sport. It seems we are way ahead of the competition. I will continue to be equally abhorred by this form of cheating, it’s all the same to me.

Craig Lord

Mark, I get that and am 100% with you on it being a form of abuse and a way of cheating others out of their just rewards – but what I am suggesting is that there is no need to compare and say ‘this is just as bad’… I think it is different in some regards. I know far too much to say ‘its all the same to me’. It isn’t. It is another chapter – and one that ought to be closed by those who run para sport, without a shadow of a doubt.

Mark Johnston

And in Australia Craig, that is Swimming Australia. They are responsible for the governance of Open Water Swimming, Pool Swimming and Swimming for swimmers with disabilities. They have a responsibility for their members welfare – especially minors. The buck as they say, stops with them. Thank you for your response.

Craig Lord

Yes, Mark, quite right – it does stop with them.


I placed a remark about the Chinese on the Aussie Swim Face Book. I was evicted.

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