Of Pointing Fingers, 1976 Tears & How FINA Is Not Alone In Letting Sleeping GDR Dogs Lie

GDR, state plan 14:25: victims of abuse included young athletes used as guinea pigs

Editorial: the scriptwriter for a documentary with USA Swimming on events at the 1976 Olympic Games – the GDR and all that – issues a thinly veiled accusation against Katinka Hosszu and places his thoughts in the context of what came to pass 40 years ago. The past raises many more questions for Casey Barrett’s script, including some for USA Swimming that speak to why going along to get along is often a bad idea

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Editorial: the scriptwriter for a documentary with USA Swimming on events at the 1976 Olympic Games – the GDR and all that – issues a thinly veiled accusation against Katinka Hosszu and places his thoughts in the context of what came to pass 40 years ago. The past raises many more questions for Casey Barrett’s script, including some for USA Swimming that speak to why going along to get along is often a bad idea


Henrik Bech

Danish breast stroker Susanne Nielsson won a silver at the Junior Europeans in 1975, silver at ECs in 1977, bronze at Worlds ’78 and a bronze at Moscow 1980. At every single one of these occasions she was beaten by either a Soviet or GDR swimmer. That would have been a run for the history books without the East Germans and Russians. Now nobody barely remembers. That’s a shame…

Craig Lord

Yes, it is, Henrik


Yes…Katinka and Ye are clearly cheating. Ledeacky is not. It is very normal that an unknown teenager beat all the olympic superstars (Lotte Friss, Becky Adlington, Mireia Belmonte…) in her olympic debut and that a couple of years later she is 30 seconds faster than any other swimmer in 1500. Pretty normal. And the USA team is a team everybody can rely on. There has been no cheaters on it.


Mr Lord: Thank you for this article. I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under my feet. I’m ashamed to hear that USA Swimming has backed Mr Maglione when change is so clearly what FINA needs. Of course such things are not reported on US websites.

The suggestions of the petition from the Press Commission meeting you list above are so wonderful I’m moved to tears by the idea they could ever occur! I don’t know anything about the politics of international sports, but I sincerely wish the US had done whatever it could to make them become reality.

I just read Mr Barrett’s article before navigating to SwimVortex. I’m so confused, I don’t know what to think! I can’t believe “Swimming World Magazine” would allow such a commentary on their website if the majority of experts in our sport did not suspect Ms Hosszu of doping; however, I couldn’t find any substance in his accusations. I can’t believe Ms Hosszu could even be capable of sophisticated doping practices without the direction of a team of doctors/scientists like those involved in State Plan 14:25.

I am depressed and disillusioned.


Hosszu has revolutionized the sport and has done things that no previous swimmer has.

That’s all I’ve been saying the past 2 years and I have nothing else to say. I can’t say anything about any swimmer until it’s proven even when there’s circumstantial evidence. But once a swimmer has been proved to have cheated, then I no longer consider them even as a swimmer. Yes, I’m looking at you Mellouli, Efimova, Hardy, Herasimenia, Zetao, Park, Yang, etc etc.


@aswimfan (and anybody else): Why haven’t we seen more athletes following Hosszu’s example and training methods? That’s another thing that always confused me. Is it just because the swim coaching establishment is too stuck in their ways?

Craig Lord

I can only repeat, Danjohnrob, what some coaches and swimmers have said to me about their own circumstances: “it would be impossible” … they simply do not see themselves following that model of preparation nor going on race tours of that magnitude – my comment is entirely related to the regime and difference in programs, which is an interesting debate, not to the speculation that’s been coupled with it.

Clive Rushton

“Turns out I’m in great company”

Yes, of course you are because you are talking fairness, openness, recognition of achievement, reconciliation (no vindictiveness in your suggestions), and a voice of truth into the future.

No wonder FINA are not listening to you ! Silly boy.


Kornelia Ender was super talented, but even at only 13 yo, I doubt she was clean in Munich.

That’s a tragedy.

Henrik Bech,

I consider myself as having better than average knowledge of swimming history, and even then, until you wrote the above, I did not remember Susanne Nielssen even if I’d read about her.

And yes, that’s a really great shame.


Interestingly, Hosszu is an alumni of “supplement free” Dave Salo’s squad at USC.


So i get that FINA is (strongly appears) to be corrupt. That is why they give so much $ to their volunteers and all the other things that have been mentioned in the past. But i don’t get the connection with their apparent refusal to do anything about the GDR results. Even if they are corrupt today, how would correcting that wrong to the best of their ability jeopardize their current crony system? If anything it might get some of the hounds off their back.


It takes one failed drug test to go from hero to zero, and if that is on the cards for Katinka, then so be it. She will be “punished” by the authorities and public alike.

Having said that, if she is cheating then she must have an incredible doping schedule in place. She competes so often and gets tested so often that the “cheat window” is minute.

The GDR team (and the Soviets), on the other hand, only showed their faces outside of their Motherlands for major meets (and perhaps for a few meets after the major meet) and were still benefitting from doping.

Whether they knew or not, in the light of overwhelming documented evidence, the East Germans must return their medals and have their names removed from all official records. And Craig, the same applies to Mr Matthes. I stilll find it very difficult to believe that any individual living in a “police state” would have been allowed to “buck the system” no matter how good a swimmer.

Now we just have to wait for Moscow to fall so we can have access to the Russian/Soviet doping State Plan.



I agree with everyone here that FINA should do something about those 70s and 80s results. I can, however, see why they are reluctant. For them, it will open the door on lawsuits etc and also on 90s and 2000s results where winners were later tested positive.
What are they going to do with 1996 Atlanta results where Michelle Smith De Bruijn swam, or about 1994 Rome where Dai Guohong etc swam? All the way to 2013 Barcelona where Efimova swam.


I’m not sure if I’ve got this right but it appears to me that there are two issues here that need to be discussed separately: 1.) Doping in sport & 2.) Sports reporting.

As to my first point, well yeah… As I say to my friends, both sports fans and not, the biggest problem with PED’s is that they really work! I don’t know if there’s any point in flogging this horse any further. We know it’s there, we know it’s unethical and we try to stop it.

The second point, though, is – I think – a really interesting one. There’s a great quote from someone about the newspaper business that goes “The best writing and the worst reporting is in the sports section.”

I think that’s true. Sports is fable for us. The Olympics, pro sports of all kinds and even week-end warrior stuff provides with a narrative of win / lose; good guys win, bad guys lose. This is especially true for those of us who have some connection to the British construct of sport. “Wars are won on the playing fields of Eton” and all that.

We – the general public – want sports to be simple and free of taint and we’ll ignore all manner of indications to the contrary. How else do we explain our idolization of athletes that commit all manner of indiscretions, both minor and major.

Mainstream sports reporting reflects what the general public wants from sports which is escape. That general public has no interest in grimy details that go along with producing athletic performance. In fact I’d argue people willfully avoid those details.

Craig Lord

aswimfan: what they can do is what’s suggested… the path of reconciliation and redress … they cannot take away what is not their’s to take away but they can acknowledge all those who would have enjoyed a different status. No challenge worth taking on comes easy if you intend to strive to the end of process that leads to the desired outcome.

Craig Lord

Just so, jman. I think, sometimes, it has come down to an illogical defensive mechanism. In the midst of the China crisis, I recall telling Gunnar Werner that FINA need not defend those who test positive and those who cheat. They need only be neutral and reinforce the rules. It need not be their fault if people cheat etc etc… but they don’t get the inherent danger in sleeping dogs that are bound to wake up pine cool evening and nip your heel.

Craig Lord

Flipper. I don’t agree with you on Matthes. He was winning six-seven years before there was any hint of swimming being targeted for State Plan 14:25. I have seen Stasi files which confirm what Dr Helge Pfeifer (one of the key scientists charged with rolling it all out) once told me in a six-hour interview: that Matthes and his coach were the only ones allowed to say no. There is evidence to suggest that was indeed the case – it isn’t guesswork.

Craig Lord

That’s not my experience MPalota (nor do I think the good guys/bad guys plays out in swimming much at all). There is a huge private (e)mail bag that tells me that vast numbers of spectators don’t want to watch doping, particularly in Olympic sports so tainted by it all. Some of the biggest hits on anything I’ve written down the years online, at newspapers (in papers) and websites mainstream and swimming have been doping related and the bulk of folk writing in, mostly in private emails (most don’t want a public platform) side with ‘clean up and ban ’em for life’ in my experience. You’re right on escape… entertainment, heroes, role models etc.. but there’s heap of evidence to suggest that while people may not want the grimy details, they do want to believe – and if they feel they can’t, you lose them – and swimming could never afford to do that.


Without question, this issue must eventually be addressed.
There is an opportunity for FINA, the IOC et al to re-write the history books, starting with State Plan 14:25, moving all the way through to the recent dopers including Sun Yang and Cesar Cielo.
It is time to stop making excuses such as ‘law suits’ and ‘what about 1996?’ And start clearing the books of all cheaters.
Yes, it will take time. Yes, law suits may occur.
I support ‘the asterisk’. I support ‘medal re-issue’ across the last 40 years. I support ‘reconciliation’.
If we can get the majority of major swimming bodies to band together (incl. Russia and Brazil) to exert influence on FINA, there may be a better chance of a positive outcome.
Good luck Mr Lord and co.


Scoobi, why is it that whenever we are discussing drugs in sport it ends up with the competition of who recalls more names and more countries involved. And it is always same few names are surfacing again and again – Ledecky, Ye Shiwen, Sun Yang , Amstrong, Jones, Hardy, Hosszu … mentioned selectively from this short list, depending on writer’s preferences. Please, take this problem seriously.
Lededcky’s race in London had taken everybody by surprise including Adlington and Friis. Do you really believe that splitting 800 like 4.05.50 – 4.14.82 (Adlington) or 4.06.13- 4.17.73(Friis) is the way to win at Olympics? So to make readers to respect your opinion please use more convincing evidences.
Back in history whenever people were facing something that cannot be explained by previous experience they were finding easy solution that involved Demons or witches. Now when it is shameful to be that stupid we are using another powerful argument – PED. So whenever you see something extraordinary like Ye Shiwen, Katie Ledecky, Katinka Hosszu etc that doesn’t fit your understanding of normal human abilities, please, don’t rush with witch hunting. Assume that it can be possible that you are incorrect, but such accusations that are based on personal feelings only can have a lasting impact.
On the other hand if nobody expressed doubts with GDR’s swimmer’s performances how would we know about what has happened with them? If nobody was aware including swimmers, parents, friends etc of what was going on, then how so much carefully guarded secret got revealed? Was it a public opinion that ignited the investigation or there were whistle-blowers, or defectors. What was that? I know so little about this.

Craig Lord

Yozhik, beyond the obvious domination of GDR women, the muscles, the deep voice sets, the revelation of precisely what had been going on was revealed after the Wall fell in 1989 when documents were saved from the shredders and were handed to Prof. Werner Franke and his wife Birgit Berendonk, who had the wherewithal and knowledge to know what it all meant and why it was important to get the information contained in the stasi file into the public domain. That’s how we know, in that particular case, the precise nature of the cheating, who did it to whom and what particular doses were administered to whom at what age. Very ugly.

Craig Lord

Thanks Luck, we love water too (clean water)


Yozhik, I think you are not getting my point. And I do agree with you that there are always a couple of name depending on writer’s preference. What I try to put on the spotlight is that those names are always non-USA swimmers. The article published on cap on googles is today about Katinka when, as this blog published this christmas (if I am not wrong), the most impressive of all swimmers this year was the american Ledecky. Nobody doubts about her but the thing is that the biggest gap that we can find now between a swimmers and his/her competitors is in the woman freestyle long distance races, by far I could say. And nevertheless somebody on a canadian blog blames Katinka for something he can’t prove!!! If we have to rise our hands and point with our fingers a cheater who would it be? The european who is at the same level of the other contestants (Belmonte beat her in the last stages of the WC) or the american who can not even be followed? Excuse me if I say that, for me, this sounds insane.

For me, Casey Barret should withdraw his article and apologize to every swimmer he can’t prove as a cheater. And of course give the proper explanations of what makes him think that someone is cheater or not.


Thank you Mr. Lord. It is indeed very ugly. It is also very discouraging that even after documents were revealed there is still an issue how to handle this case properly. Also this case shows how little public opinion matters to those who is in charge of international swimming. Don’t you feel struggling with windmills?


Scoobi, I probably took your comments to literally. Please, take no offense.


Mr Barrett’s article is purely opinion, or “commentary”. I have watched many, many interviews with Ms Hosszu, and my impression of her has always been extremely positive! She is a bright, energetic, joyful young woman.

Do actual coaching experts suspect her of cheating? Mr Barrett’s article has left me with that impression, but I’ve never heard that before today.

It would seem to me that a truly unbiased investigative journalist could interview her and observe her unorthodox training and actually report on it rather than cast aspersions upon her without much difficulty. It’s not like she is training in a locked facility; she’s travelling all over the world for competitions and training in plain sight!

Does anybody know if her autobiographical book has any details about her training? It was supposed to come out in English this April, but I have been unable to find any info about it.


Best quote is by David Lowe, there is no question that the GDR was doping their in all Olympic fields including swimming. But the individuals concerned were deserve sympathy for what a corrupt state was prepared to do and the criminal coaches and officials, its abuse. Unlike other people who choose to cheat.
I think that FINA should make an acknowledgement of some kind that this kind of abuse happened and a recognition that those behind the East German swimmers were cheated out of potential medals. I don’t really see the point of an asterisk as it would be a token gesture and I can’t see new medals giving out again token. What they should be is a commitment that the FINA is committed 100% to anti doping and support to both the former GDR swimmers and those who swarm against them.

Jim C

It is not true that suspicion always falls on non-USA swimmers. Dara Torres was widely suspected in 2008, and many of those who raised questions were Americans.

I do not understand why Casey Barret should be expected to apologize to Hosszu, but it is perfectly acceptable for people like Scoobi to virtually demand that Katie Ledecky be accused of using drugs

Am I to understand that Scoobi is arguing that the European who won the FINA Female Swimmer of the Year Award for 2014 should not be suspected of using drugs because the American swimmer she beat out for the award has been performing at a much higher level than the European who won the award.


In 2008, Gary Hall Jr said
“Amy van Dyken is inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame, and Marion Jones goes to jail. The only difference was that Marion Jones admitted it, but they were both on the same list.”

Don’t believe me? Google it.
Van Dyken was a regular client of BALCO as was Mario Jones and was summoned to testify. While Marion Jones admit her wrong doing, van Dyken never admitted she used banned substances.

Ironically, in Sydney 2000, this is what van Dyken said about Inge de Bruijn after she lost to her “I could have won too, if I were a man.”

I guess it takes one to know one.


If someone can explain Ye Shiwens freestyle split (faster than Lochtes) in the Olympic 400IM I would die happy. It is like the riddle of the Sphinx.
Until then….

Craig Lord

JimC, you make a valid point. In general, to all, I repeat what I’ve said before: defending one swimmer against an accusation by accusing others is no argument. By all means argue that it is unfair to single out X and give your reasons but try to avoid dragging Y into it. No case is ever the same – and some demand a greater ‘time to say something’ than others, no question (I’m thinking of obvious cases down the years where leading figures in the sport, coaches, athletes, raised a flag).
In general, pertinent to all anti-doping arguments regardless of the athlete, sport or jurisdiction, I say this:
Some of the things that make it hard to defend athletes when rumours abound (and they do, and not just for one athlete) are down to the very system designed to protect them and fall under ‘lack of transparency’; ‘systemic weakness’; and ‘discrepancies and differences between nation approaches to anti-doping’. Please all keep in mind that the following are areas where the system offers weak defence of the athlete (through no fault of any athlete):
1. the number of tests a swimmer takes may be somewhat irrelevant given that we know there have been many cases (Armstrong etc) of athletes being tested very regularly but never testing positive (Armstrong. Jones both confessions… and that down to international and domestic testing regimes and the cleverness of people who know well how to avoid).
2. In swimming there is an international out-of-comp test frequency for each athlete (usually 1 to 3 times in most cases) while in some nations, USA, Britain, Australia, Germany and several others, for example, the domestic testing regime is frequent and can mean a swimmer’s tally of tests runs to 20, 30 a year); there are other nations that have no/negligible domestic regime to face (some athletes only face intl tests)
3. The stories of people being warned that the testers are coming are all too strong. Several athletes who gave evidence to the ARD documentaries on Russian doping, for example, spoke of testers calling to say they were on their way. THat should not happen, of course. I have heard of such things too many times in swimming down the years.
4. The WADA system is trying hard to do a hard job. It is a little like burglary: you can lock all the doors and windows as much as you like, have fences, dogs, etc … there will always be those determined to get through and steal your stuff. Trust is important.
5. One of the most important aspects of anti-doping and considering whether to raise red flags is to look beyond any athlete named: who else is involved, what environment are they in, whose influence are they under and so on. I think much more forensic-syle work could be done in that area when flags are raised by leading figures in a sport (and those flags, by the way, are being raised by coaches and leading athletes from many countries, so non-one should assume such things ever come only from one direction). Unpalatable as such things may be, they are important to the process of trying to keep sport clean (and before any suggest ‘open the medicine cabinet and there would be no problem’, all the above would remain the case because you would always need a level of control, one way or another.
6. Culture is important. In one article yesterday, I run the following quote: “My team is a family, and I would not think it is right for me, as coach, to shun one of my swimmers, even if they were caught cheating.” We should NEVER hear that from a coach or anyone else working with kids and signed up to the WADA Code … but we do. It is nothing to do with shunning: prevention, education, good culture, a ‘this-we-do-not-do’ approach is the stuff that avoids the need to shun. You don’t get a kid to behave well if every time he goes the wrong way you say ‘naughty step’/’sin bin’ etc and then don’t follow through on the discipline of it: the child soon learns that you’re not serious.


Whatever happened to “blood passports”? Surely there are markers that would indicate alteration by PED even if the swimmer tests clean?

I admire KL’s achievements and would be very disappointed if she is found to be a cheat. But she did not appear from nowhere and is under intensive scrutiny now that she is churning out mind-boggling times. Yet she is improving all the time.

Miss Ye, on the other hand, appeared out of nowhere, and has sort of plateau’d now that she is under scrutiny, like so many other Chinese stars. Of course there will always be naturally gifted Chinese swimmers whose achievements will be viewed with suspicion, but they are few and far between.

But that appears to be China’s M.O. Cultivate world class swimmers at PED camps, send them to major meets to win as a once-off (unless the lasting effects of previous PED use takes longer to wear off), and then send in the next batch of manufactured stars to replace them. The new swimmers enter the arena clean, but will be replaced once they start losing. Just my theory.

And no. I don’t have an issue with Chinese people, just as I don’t have an issue with Germans. I do have an issue with state-sponsored cheating. But its the Ender’s and Ye’s who we see on the podium so they must bear the brunt of criticism in the absence of the faceless masterminds behind the scenes.


Jim C, what I mean to say is that the argumentation of Casey lies in the difficult to understand the level of performance of a swimmer when there are other swimmers performing at higher level and nobody have a doubt about them. Phelps swam much more and no doubt.

We should not allow people cheating, but we should not allow either someone accussing a swimmer without proofs.



Don’t be silly. Ye Shiwen did NOT come out nowhere. She was double Asian Games champion in 2010 and World Champion in 2011.


And Flipper,

Your theory sucks. Equating Ye Shiwen to the already proven Kornelia Ender is stupid, and I thought Craig had a policy of NOT falsely accusing anyone without prove. Or does the rule apply to Americans only, while the rest of the world is fair game.

No wonder there’s a lot of frustration regarding doping in swimming when the rule is not applied fairly.

Craig Lord

Now then aswimfan, I don’t sit around waiting for every second that a comment comes in in the hope of taking an axe to it … No policy I may have at this site applies to one group / nation over another and I believe Flipper made a point of noting that he has no prejudice of that kind. Just as well because that’s not what we’re about here. In Flipper’s comment I see no mention of him suggesting both Ender and Ye tested positive: neither ever did, officially, though that does not mean there is no proof of PEDs. It points to one of the elements in the debate about raising flags, when and if that is appropriate. We know, from Stasi documents and from Kornelia herself that she was give PEDs; we also know that Ye swam off the chart for Olympic gold and scepticism was rampant among journalists, swimmers, coaches and many others and those views were supported by very solid information from very solid sources. To this day, no-one has come up with a plausible explanation. The flag I raised in 2012 remains on the mast and I make no apologies for it nor will I enter a discussion about the merits of raising a flag from one swimmer over another, each case that may arise being quite different in nature and circumstance in my experience – and as you know, I have suggested that others refrain from compare and contrast exercises for that and other reasons spelled out on numerous occasions before. Flippers’ theory may well be unpalatable to some but in the case of China it is actually based on fact: such camps/programs did exist, we know that, so it is actually fair comment, even though China has travelled a journey since the days of sorrow and shame in the 1990s.


Craig Lord,

Many of Flipper’s points are way off base. For example, he said Ye Shiwen as “came out of nowhere” – which is the total opposite- to support his argument. His argument may not be wrong, but to accuse Ye Shiwen as coming out nowhere is ridiculous. Both Missy and Ledecky are way more coming out from nowhere when compared to Shiwen.

And unlike Flipper, I hate more those swimmers who chose to dope, than East Germans or Chinese swimmers who were forced by their coaches.

Meanwhile, obvious swimmers like Inge De Bruijn, Amy van Dyken, Hosszu, etc have been reaping so many financial rewards.

Craig Lord

aswimfan, I’m not going to leap in every time a comment is not spot-on accurate – there are lots of you who do do that and that’s all fine. To say Ye came from nowhere is not correct but it is hardly an ‘accusation’; that lies elsewhere. And your last comment has been trashed because you did exactly what I asked you not to do: deliberately link a whole load of different cases and names, positive, suspected and actual case files in one thought with a provocative question the answer to which from this editor is ‘no, of course not’.

Jim C

Doubts were raised in 2012 about Phelps by a Chinese doctor.


Yeah, I wonder if Inge De Bruijn, Amy van Dyken, and Hoszzu had trained in China instead of USA, would have they received the same level of suspicion, or more?

Craig Lord

aswimfan, just stop it please. Your question is pointless and deliberately provocative. You know where this is going and if you are the level of swim historian you claim to be you will know very well that there is a VAST difference between the historic relationship with doping in Chinese swimming and the equivalent in the USA, NED and other countries. The book of facts does not compare, so best not try to do it.



I acknowledge that my info may have been off regarding Miss Ye, but answer me this:

What was she up to between “championship swims” and was she tested regularly?

The East Germans were fantastic “championship swimmers”, but did very little outside of their country for the rest of the time to avoid international testing and scrutiny.

I don’t think it has anything to do with being overly lenient on other countries or swimmers. They compete regularly on circuit between championships and are regularly tested. Only for that reason do I give them the benefit of the doubt.

I don’t for one minute believe that other countries are clean (Flo Jo, JJK, Marion Jones, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay, Etc come to mind), but they are individuals and not part of some grand national scheme.

But I think Miss Ye has reached the pinnacle of her career I’m afraid. Although I believe she has a distant cousin doing a 57.5 freestyle backend in 400IM in training and will be unleashed on the world just before the 2020 OG.


KL was getting noticed in 2011- some nice long course times for a young junior. Then you had to do a bit of tea leaf reading and you could see that the times got even nicer during winter short course yards season. A lot of people in early 2012 were thinking she had the potential to be a big name in the sport come Rio and that the 2012 Olympic Trials this time around would help her prepare for four years down the road.

She just arrived somewhat ahead of schedule.


Dear Craig

I am disappointed that you take that thrash article up!

Would you do the same, if a former swimmer from the former East Block implied that Michael Phelps was doped in Beijing, where he did the exact same thing Hosszu now is beeing accused of doing, with outside aid?

The article in question is a relic from the Cold War – why always question good performances from non-american swimmers?


@aswimfan: Your comment, “Meanwhile obvious swimmers like…Hosszu…have been reaping so many financial rewards.”, it sounds like YOU suspect Hosszu of cheating also. Perhaps I am misinterpreting your comment, so please correct me if I am wrong.

Craig Lord

Dear Kim, I appreciate you’re upset with that article but it isn’t mine. It was important to pick it up the context of the writer’s position as the scriptwriter for USA Swimming’s dock on 1976 and all the woe that flowed. Down the years, there have been many similar incidents, some involving Americans, a German coach accusing Thorpe, L’Equipe casting doubts on Thorpe and many stories in similar vein. I have covered them in the context that I thought appropriate to the moment, regardless of my own personal view on the source of things and the touch-paper. I note that I have made no such accusations but will continue to note the unique nature of the progress and preparation of the swimmer in question. It is important to do so. Thanks for your understanding.


I remember watching the women’s backstroke races at the Montreal Olympics and being stunned by the size difference between the East German gold and silver medalists and the much smaller and slimmer bronze medalist from Canada. Nancy Garapick had previously set a world record in the 200 back at the tender age of 13 in 1975 and she was dwarfed by these East German doped creations. I feel sad for the athletes who had and still have to compete against these manipulated specimens and for the individuals who were doped without their knowledge and often suffered serious health consequences as a result. Horrifying that the situation is possibly and likely no better almost 40 years later.

Jim C

In London the only swimmers to beat Hosszu in the 400IM were Beisel and both Chinese swimmers. [JimC, your point taken but the words were conjecture and may lead to more of the same responses we’ve come to expect. Your first sentence suffices to make the point you wish to make – thanks, ED]



I am sticking with my “In the past 2 years, Hosszu has revolutionized the sport and has done things that NO PREVIOUS SWIMMER has done before”.

Let’s interpret it as “I am completely impressed by Hosszu’s results, but I am taking it with a lot of salt”.

Which is different to my reaction to the swims by Coughlin, Campbell or Lochte where I am completely impressed and happy and there’s no reservation.

Craig Lord

aswimfan, you are correct when you note the unique nature of Katinka Hosszu’s preparation, race plan and progress across a vast range of events.

Jim C

I will challenge Casey on one point. Did Hosszu believe Ye cheated? That’s for her to say,

If I remember correctly, Hosszu took a very strong public position saying that Ye did not cheat. Unless she was saying something she did not believe to be true, we already have the answer to the question of what Hosszu believed.

Jim C

aswimfan. If Amy Van Dyken had trained in China, I doubt that anyone here would be dragging the name of a paraplegic through the mud.

I don’t hate children who are doped by the state, but I hope you would agree that doping children without their knowledge is much worse than an adult choosing to dope, or an organization such as BALCO helping adults to dope with their consent.

Jim C

aswimfan. In October 2011 Ye Shiwen swam her fastest 400IM prior to London, a 4:33.66 finishing, second in the Chinese City Games. In the same month Missy Franklin became the firtst female since the banning of the shiny suits to set an individual world record, going 2:00.03 in the 200 back at Short Course World Championships.

Earlier Missy won 5 medals including 3 golds at the 2011 World Championships held in China, including a gold in the 3rd fastest time ever in the 200 back–by contrast Ye Shiwen had a single medal, a 200IM gold, but finishing off the podium in 5th the 400IM with a time of 4:35.15.

Your claim that Missy came from way more out of nowhere than Ye Shiwen is truly ridiculous.


Jim c,

I am not trying to drag van Dyken’s name through the mud. I hope she recovers well and wish her good health.

However, it is factual that she was summoned to testify before the Grand jury. It is factual that she was a regular client of BALCO, who supplied pharmaceuticals to many elite sports persons who either tested positive to doping or admitted guilt. It is factual that Gary Hall Jr. said those words about her, and it is factual that she said those words about Inge De Bruijn.

Please tell me which other American swimmers who are off limit in the discussion of this particular subject?


Jim C,

My claim is not ridiculous. Ye Shiwen came to international prominence before Missy did.

At 2010 Asian Games, Shiwen swam 2:09.37 and 4:33.79 in 200 and 400 IM. Her 200 IM time made her #1 by the end of the year while her 400 IM time ranked her #2 at the end of the year.

Yes, Shiwen made both Missy and Ledecky looked like they came out of nowhere, which they didn’t. But if you want to compare, which is what Flipper falsely accused her of.

Jim C

Aswimfan. If we are talking about the world records of Franklin in the 200 back and Ye Shiwen in the 400IM then am I to understand that you are saying Ye Shiwen who was never ranked number one in the world for any year before 2012, who wasn’t even ranked number one in her country from the previous year, and who only finished 5th in the Worlds in 2011 made Franklin look like she had come out of nowhere when Franklin had been ranked number one in the world in 2011 in both LCM and SCM, became the first female to set an individual world record after the shiny suit era in the SC version of the event, and won the world championships by a whopping 0.94 s in her event. I do not think you will have much credibility if you insist on sticking with that claim.

Bad Anon

Its a difficult topic, all great perfomances will always raise eyebrows from one forum or another. One hopes the world anti doping agency is pulling all the stops in ensuring that cheaters are caught and busted. Whether Ye’s split was “off the chart” or Ledeckys 1500wr was equally so are just opinions. The facts are clear ; they’re both wr in 400medley and 400/800/1500 free respectively. Neither has a doping offence and their achievements are worthy of celebration. Everyone is entitled to an opinion but the facts are known to everyone

Jim C

Ledecky came from nowhere in 2012 at 15 in her first international competition to win Olympic gold and be number 1 in the world in the 800. Ye Shiwen came from nowhere in 2010 to win double gold in the Asian Games and be number 1 I the 200IM and number 2 in the 400IM. If we are going to say what Ledecky did in 2012 was suspicious, we should say the same about what Ye Shiwen did at only 14 in 2010 when she was a mere 160cm tall.

The problem for Ye Shiwen in 2012 is that she was not a newcomer, but a veteran with two years of international experience. I would consider a 5s improvement over a PB in a 400IM race for a veteran swimmer like Ye Shiwen in 2012 to be more shocking than a 5s improvement in an 800m free race over a previous PB by a newcomer.


Jim C,

Please don’t twist my words.

I never disputed that ye Shiwen’s Lomond 400 IM was out there. I am just disputing the use of false evidence to support the hypothesis that Ye Shiwen as doping. In this case, the false evidence that Shiwen “came out of nowhere”. She did not.

And although Shiwen never ranked #1 in 400 IM prior to Sydney, she was ranked #1 in 200 IM for two years straight in 2010 and 2011,and ranked #2 in 400 IM in 2010 losing by a mere few tenths to Hanny Miley.

If you wanted to use evidence of Ye never ranked #1 in 400 IM prior to London as support to her doping, I can also point out that Ledecky was never ranked #1 in 400 free prior to 2013. In fact, she was not ranked in any top 8 prior to 2013. And yet in 2013 she shlashed her best by 5 seconds in 400 free to almost broke the shiny suit WR.

I don’t like people muddling the issue by throwing in all kinds of false data and evidence. The issue is ye Shiwen’s last 100 in 400 IM in London. And it warrants some suspicion, but please don’t muddle it up using weak argument.


Doh so many typos thanks to autocorrect and mobile typing.

Lomond and Sydney should be London.


Aswimfan, I am really got confused by this discussion. If neither you nor Roy accuse Katie Ledecky of cheating nor Jim C shames Ye Shiwen with the use of illegal substances then, gentlemen, what is this dispute is all about? Now I understand what swim vortex [comments can be, assumed as the meaning by the ED] – circling, circling deeper and deeper without any way out. Please make an effort and get out of it until it gets too dangerous.



I just want to show that except for that last 100 in 400 IM, everything about Shiwen is NOT “abnormal”.

I don’t like when the discussion about doping is muddled by inclusion of myths and false data.

Jim C

Ye Shiwen broke a shiny suit record by 1.02s in her 2012 400IM while Ledecky fell short by 0.57s in the 400 free in 2013. Even after her incredible year in 2013 in which she was number 1 ranked by a whopping 2.65s, Ledecky who unable to reduce the shiny suit mark in the 400 free by as much time or as great a percent as Ye Shiwen did in 2012. So how did Ye Shiwen, who had never been ranked number 1 and was not even the number 1 Chinese swimmer in 2011 do what Ledecky couldn’t do in 2014 after her 2013 season.

And Oh yeah, when Ledecky did win gold in the 400 free she was 4.52s faster than her opening 400m split in her gold medal winning 800m swim in London. Ye Shiwen had a 5.23 s improvement over a previous PB from an entire race, not from the opening split in a longer race.


Jim C,

Again, you are nitpicking. Although Shiwen never ranked #1 previously, she was ranked #2in 2010, losing by mere few tenths to Miley.

In percentage terms, Ledecky progression in 400 free from 2012 to 2013 (one year) is the similar to Shiwen’s progression from 2010 to 2012 (two years). I can show you many many many clean swimmers, legends, whose progress was even more stark and could never replicate got near their best ever again, before or after. Have you ever heard of Misty Hyman? She was NEVER faster than 2:09 before AND after 2000 Sydney, and yet in Sydney she swam 2:05.8. Hyman’s progress and inconsistency makes Shiwen’s a child play.

Again, apart from her last lap split, there’s nothing out of ordinary about Ye Shiwen.


@Yozhik: Great comment! 😉

@aswimfan: I think your last sentence above sums things up nicely! 🙂

Jim C

Aswimfan. Miley was 0.70s faster than Ye in 2010–that is really not a small margin in world class competition.

Misty Hyman did not swim 2:05.8 she swam 2:05.88. If she had swum 2:05.8 she would have broken the WR of 2:05.85.

Misty suffered a shoulder injury which explained why she was never again able to match what she did in Sydney.

Misty improved by a greater percentage than Ye did–but she fell short of a WR/textile best, while Ye broke a shiny suit WR by 1.02 s, and she swam a textile time that was a whopping 3.31s faster than what had been the textile best prior to the Olympics.

Jim C


Ye Shiwen supporters cite her growth support as an explanation for her improvement from 14 to 16.


Jim C,

Would you care to explain how Misty Hyman, who had never ranked #1 EVER, suddenly slashed 4 seconds off her best to win Sydney 2000?

Jim C

Misty swam a 2:09.27 at trials and a 2:05.88 at the Olympics. That is not an improvement of 4s, but only 3.39s which is closer to 3s than 4s. As you noted, even with the improvement her best time wasn’t even good enough for her to be ranked number one for the year.

I fail to see the difficulty in explaining how a swimmer who had never been number one before 2000 managed to not be number in 2000.


Jim C,

as you contend about Shiwen, I am not talking about improvement in the same year. I talked about Misty Hyman’s improvement from previous years to 2000.

So it took Susie O’neill, regarded as the most talented 200 flyer post-Meagher, 8 years to go from 2:09 to 2:05.8 but it took Misty Hyman a few months. Hyman never again swam under 2:09.
Shoulder surgery? Well, other flyers such as Stephanie Rice had shoulder surgeries and still went their textile PBs in less than a year.
Also, Hyman was never ranked #2 EVER, and then she suddenly went #2 only losing a mere 0.07 seconds to O’Neill. Oh my! How would you explain that she suddenly became #2 when she never ranked #2 before?

Jim C

Aswimfan. I never said Misty Hyman was clean, you did. Do you now have reservations about your earlier claim that she was clean? Has my failure to support Ye Shiwen somehow led you to change your opinion about whether Misty Hyman was on drugs or not? If I have somehow managed to convince you that Misty Hyman was on drugs, have I also managed to convince you that Ye Shiwen was on drugs?

If it is OK for you to say Misty was dirty and Ye Shiwen was clean, it should be OK for me to say Ye Siwen was on drugs, and I don’t know whether Misty was on them or not. At least I am willing to point to the drug I suspect, Sun Yang’s drug, and I can explain how she passed her drug test since the drug was legal in 2012. I am not suggesting Ye Shiwen used an illegal PED in 2012, but rather a very specific legal one.


Jim C,

If only you focused on that last lap split and how the Yang’s drug may have assisted such performance, then we may not have such a long and meandering discussion. But you gave so many details which you may have believed supported your suspicion of Ye. And I have presented evidence and argument that those details are not unique or even uncommon as many other swimmers past and present had those details.

Now, about that last lap split, yes it is unique and unprecedented and warrants suspicion.

But other details such as not previously ranked #1, came out of nowhere, etc etc are either false or not unique.

Jim C

Aswimfan. Please don’t take me out of context.

I talked about Ye never having been number one in the 400IM in response to your claim that Franklin as well as Ledecky came out of nowhere way more than Ye. And I said Ledecky came out of nowhere in 2012 and Ye came out of nowhere in 2010. If we are going to raise questions about Ledecky in her breakout year of 2012, then I suggested that we do the same for Ye’s breakout year of 2010–and I made a point of her 160cm height only because her supporters argued that it had been a great handicap for her in 2010, so her subsequent growth could help explain her improvement in 2012.

Jim C

Aswimfan mentioned Misty Hyman. It was claimed that Misty used a PED. Just before the Athens Olympics, the IOC appointed three members to investigate this and related claims, and waive a three year rule with regard to stripping athletes of their medals if it were proved that they shouldn’t have been competing in the Olympics. Compare this response to the one the IOC took in 2012 with respect to Ye Shiwen.


Here’s last night’s BBC Panorama programme on drugs in Athletics. OK, it’s not swimming but it has relevance across all sports. The reporter himself submits himself to micro doses of EPO and shows how easy it is to fool the system. In this day and age, when a performer shows a noted improvement in performance it is reasonable to be suspicious. I think Casey Barrett is certainly justified in his suspicions.


Ger, thank you for the link.

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