Tom Fraser-Holmes & Grant Hackett Lead The Call For China To Be Kept At Bay

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)

It was only a matter of time before Australian swimmers themselves turned round to their coaches and others trading in dollars and deals at what they see as their expense and took a stand: ‘We don’t want to share our training pools with the Chinese.’ In an exclusive report by Jessica Halloran and Amy Harris at The Australian Sunday Telegraph, Thomas Fraser-Holmes led the wake-up call when he expressed upset at having to share a pool with a Chinese squad at training session last week. The 24-year-old’s stance had the support of Grant Hackett

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It was only a matter of time before Australian swimmers themselves turned round to their coaches and others trading in dollars and deals at what they see as their expense and took a stand: ‘We don’t want to share our training pools with the Chinese.’ In an exclusive report by Jessica Halloran and Amy Harris at The Australian Sunday Telegraph, Thomas Fraser-Holmes led the wake-up call when he expressed upset at having to share a pool with a Chinese squad at training session last week. The 24-year-old’s stance had the support of Grant Hackett



On 20 January 2016, Denis Cotterell was seen at PBC pool by an ASTCA accredited coach on pool deck with Brian King with Sun Yang and other Chinese swimmers. Cotterell’s association not only with the Chinese keeps raising eyebrows, but also his continued support every time Brian King has been caught in breach of his SAL ban. It appears as though he has once again picked up the pieces after management of PBC pool stepped in and banned King from coaching any team at their facility. When you continually witness unethical behaviour, of course, it is only natural that questions are going to be raised about what behaviour they are willing to turn a blind eye to, especially when there is big money involved.


Is the Australian doping agency allowed to test foreign swimmers who are training in Australia?

If yes, then maybe they need to test them more (as TFH conplained that the chinese swimmers are not tested as often as the Australian swimmers)

Craig Lord

Yes, aswimfan, under certain circumstances, such as training at funded facilities … all overseas swimmers who do that must agree to submit to ASADA testing at their own cost, under rules brought in because of the Sun Yang case.
More testing, of course, does not necessarily equal more risk for some program (wherever in the world) who have been working with substances ahead of the WADA curve… another story…



I guess you are right. Even If the chinese use PED, they would never risk it in Australia.

I assume that a particular issue in this TFH case is that Denis Corterel is still providing some sort of coaching to Yang via proxy.

But I other than that, I can’t think of anything wrong if they pay the right to use the facilities and coaching. I mean, Australian coaches need some money too, right.

Craig Lord

Well, aswimfan, it’s also about the perspective of people other than the coaches in question, of course: swimmers and taxpayers, including the parents who pay for programs like Miami to exist in the first place. Australia ploughs millions into developing facilities, experts and athletes, sport science and much more in the mix down the years. The taxpayer then wants to see a return: medals, gold preferably, come the big moments. When China starts to get more medals in the pool than Australia (London 2012 etc), the questions are bound to be raised: who are we helping – at what price? what do we really know about them? Why do they need to be so heavily based in Australia when there has been plenty of money to spend on improving facilities and expertise at home? And many more along those lines, stretching to all the issues related to doping and the taint to Australia when Chinese swimmers test positive these days. If coaches in Australia want to take the money and the credit for Chinese progress, they must also take the responsibility and wrap when things go wrong … some Australians are asking ‘why should we do that – we are not responsible for China … this is a price not worth paying…’ etc. If a big-name from China steps up wins a big medal and then tests positive, which coach will be called to account and banned alongside the swimmer: the Chinese home coach, or the Australian who will hold up their hands and say ‘nothing to do with me, mate’? No harm in exchanges – and those can be very healthy for all involved – but a lot more caution needs to be exercised than it has been, it seems to me… and not only in Australia (and not only on China, though the model currently at play in Australia is fairly specific in terms of its impact on the home program).


Yeah, it’s kinda “off” that the chinese send so many of their swimmers months before Rio, just as they did before London.

I like better the attitude of Michael Bohl who completely cut off ties with Park Tae Hwan after he tested positive.

I don’t understand Cotterel who still tolerated Sun Yang.


It would be very very interesting to peruse whatever contracts may be in place between Chinese swimming and the AUS coaches involved. One would hope for the coaches involved that they have had some proper advice before signing ….. for their own sakes.

If they haven’t then I will agree with Craig that their hindquarters may well feel distinct discomfort ! Swimming AUS will as usual do their finest Lady Macbeth impersonation …..

However, for all the noble verbiage being expelled by some (including a few who’ve taken the foreign shilling themselves); patriotism doesn’t guarantee that you and your family remain fed !! Elite coaching is not a guaranteed gravy train as they generally have to pay assistants and other overheads.

Little wonder that American coaches will take college posts, even with the constraints involved, due to the $$$. Matt Brown had to leave Brisbane early last year and find a new post due to loss of access to training facilities.

I also can’t help thinking that by having what can be construed as a public “sook” in the media, TFH has shown a sign of mental weakness rather than concentrating on what HE can control rather than things he cannot. Don’t think that his international opponents won’t take note !


A small clarification on the last paragraph of my previous comment. In no way am I saying that TFH should be prevented from expressing a view; my concern is around the when and to whom (ie the media) and its potential for creating an even greater distraction not only for himself and his squad but potentially for others as the media smell blood …… or least some lush juicy headlines.

Add the good old racial “dog whistle” (all AUS capital city tabloids ARE Murdoch so that’s a “given”) for good measure and off we go ….. even when there was no race element in the comments from either TFH or Hackett. Have little doubt that Chinese media will play this card.

Does the “cause” end up being advanced in any constructive direction …….. colour me sceptical !

Craig Lord

I concur with much of that CW and feel sorry for individuals such as Matt Brown if they genuinely cannot find the level of funding required to run a decent program in a country such as Australia, though I agree with Bill Sw on that – taking on China comes with a double edged sword.
As for TFH, he gets my thumbs up: swimming needs far more athletes prepared to stand up and say ‘you know what, this is how I feel and this is not working for me, the clean athlete’. Good for him. If he’s done the work, and gets the right support from Swimming Australia, he’ll deliver. I don’t agree that he can’t ‘control’ the China situation in the sense that he is one cog in a very large wheel – it is for many more cogs to say ‘unacceptable – with this we will not put up’. And when you get closer to that level of peer pressure that forces better culture, you find yourself empowered and feeling all the stronger for it, not weaker. I’d hope to hear his teammates and others support him. Good for Hackett for doing so – and doing it without doing so in a disrespectful tone. He simply told it like he feels it.

Craig Lord

Yes, I know what you mean CW – as I said, the retort for any ‘racist’ accusations and so forth is to throw it straight back – nothing to do with that and never was … a complete red herring (no pun intended) – and as TFH says, he’s mates with several of the kids from China. The kids are not the point. The question is the system and the lack of transparency and openess in that system, one with a history of rogues and bad practice, and how that plays out at international level when the general rules and rules of engagement ought to be applied evenly all nations all competitors. Imagine if an Australian 17-year-old died suddenly in the night on an official Swimming Australia training camp in Sydney. I think we all know what would happen next – and I would welcome media attention, not shun it.
On media, I hear what you say but for each cross there’s a tick: It is media attention that played a big part in getting a change of rules and conditions after Perth 1998; media attention (and hard slog) that got the WADA inquiry and reports done; media attention (and very hard slog over many years by one man, Andrew Jennings, and this whelping him) that led the FBI to FIFA and so on.


“Even If the chinese use PED, they would never risk it in Australia.”

*Cough* Perth 98 *cough*

I do think that Australia needs to get better control of guest athletes training in their country. What were supposed to be reforms after London are just not working or being followed it seems.

However, as a resident and taxpayer of a country that does more than its share of funding other country’s athletes to Olympic glory, I do have to say I also find the Aussies to be at least a bit xenophobic about these foreign athletes.

Craig Lord

beachmouse, I think the xenophobic tag too strong. Teams and individuals from all over the world descend on Australia all-year round and there’s rarely an issue … and a great del of hospitality and sharing, too … the Chinese situation has developed into something else, including, at times, a shield (and I’m not talking about the swimmers, rather those in the background of those guiding them)


Related note- there have been three very high profile doping positives in different sports announced lately. The drug is meldonium, which is an eastern European heart medication that apparently also increases endurance. Be interesting to see how these cases are handled since each athlete in their sport is about 95%+ as high profile as Sun Yang.

Anelise Kostigan

surprise surprise surprise Brian King up to his usual tricks – what else is new..
Give the man an icecream van so he can do what he does best…

Anelise Kostigan

when will SAL get it right?

King is a banned swim coach – he is not able to coach and is still serving a suspension for his [verbal and psychological] abuse of children

Cotterell was punished & reprimanded only last year for misconduct & his involvement with King.

These 2 men are the pimple on the ass of australian swimming

[Anelise – edited that last part of your comment out for legal reasons, thanks for understanding – ED.

I add this so the reader who comes to this fresh can see the context of your comment, from a news report June 2015:

Denis Cotterell emerged relatively unscathed from a Swimming Australian investigation into the bullying and intimidation of young swimmers on the Gold Coast and Brisbane.

The probe was launched after a string of complaints about Cotterell’s former assistant at Miami Swimming Club, Brian King, who worked there from 2010 to 2013 before going on to coach at the Kingston club in Brisbane.

Parents have taken the matter further and the Australian Sports Commission has now become involved.

Parents and the swim club committee claimed in statements to Swimming Australia that Cotterell failed to act after finding out King picked on their children and humiliated them during training sessions … ]


Craig & BM; at most times the welcome for almost all international athletes is accepting & fairly warm no matter the background as it generally is in the States (albeit there is still an undercurrent that feels “furriners” & Title IX” have undermined America !).

However, this is an election year down here and the Murdoch media and current government will be playing ye olde racial dog whistle for all it’s worth; primarily against refugees/boat people but it doesn’t take much of a leap for them to pick up a thread “here are these foreign cheaters”.

I completely agree with BM that the whole “regime” of foreign athletes training overseas needs to be cleaned up and if it need some sort of legal regime to underpin these then so be it. Make it a global regime (maybe collegiate can be exempted) so there are no recriminations “you’re picking on the Chinese etc”.

However, by buying into this media piece (almost certaintly with the best of intent); I feel TFH has potentially bought himself into a @$%&fight he could’ve done without. As it is, he’s inviting snipes along the lines that he’s already shopping round for excuses why he (potentially) didn’t swim well

Craig Lord

Yes, Sharapova and Co, beachmouse. An awful lot of long-term heart disease among people who endure long hours of the kind of exercise that might kill the average bloke, it seems

Craig Lord

Sure, I understand that thought process and the ye olde racial dog whistle etc (interesting that in Germany with a movement called Pegida it is the reverse: many mainstream media writing ‘Merkel may have been too open but be kind to refugees, they need our help’, while those happy to march alongside neo-Nazis and stand behind the convicted criminal leading the movement are shouting what the Nazis shouted in the 1930s ‘LuegenPresse” or Lying Press, propaganda and xenophobia hanging heavy in the air).
With TFH, we shall soon see how he’s going come the hour. The timing isn’t great but whenever and whatever we have to say and write what we do and may about TFH, the thrust of any criticism on this issue rests with those who made the decision not only to let China use Australia as its backyard pool but then either defend aberration that Australians would surely have highlighted back in the days of Perth 1998 (no question whatsoever, and they would have been right to do so/were right to do so) or remain silent when bad things happen. I don’t recall a harsh word of public criticism from certain quarters when China allowed Sun Yang to appear on pool deck with a banned doctor supposedly with a 3-month ban served (ha, ha) without the world and WADA having been informed of the suspension. That stinks to high heaven. I think any criticism in such matters should not focus on TFH but on those at the heart of the dung heap. If those running programs wanted to avoid the stench, they should have cleaned out the stable properly a long time ago.


Craig, I agree with you in principle but life experience tells me that this entire business could be so easily de-railed on so many fronts that the most likely outcome will be fertiliser flying and no positive outcome … at least in the shorter term.

Anelise; King’s 6 month suspension was from June last year so therefore lapsed at New Year so he is currently able to operate for the following six months on a probationary licence. He is banned from coaching U16s for a period of 3 years.

The fine point of this “probationary licence” I do not know; whether he is currently in breach of said conditions … again, unknown but I would agree that SAL are leaving themselves exposed in not being across this situation with Sun.

King has proven himself not to be of good character on a number of fronts (falsified CV & misconduct both in AUS & overseas). Should he be out of business for good; certainly a good case can be made.

As for Cotterall; he wouldn’t be the first coach (or the last) to whom success has bred a number of unfortunate personal traits. Whilst on legal grounds, there was probably no grounds for sanction over King; he certainly does not come out of it creditably

Craig Lord

I take your first point CW and wouldn’t disagree with it at all – it is a classic reminder of why those who run programs should deal with the dung the moment it starts to pile up in the corner – leaving it to swimmers to say ‘look, there’s a pile of manure over there’ reflects an abdication of responsibility on the part of others. A failure of ‘leaders’ to lead.


Presumably, Sharapova, Sun Yang and the like should simply have to retire on medical grounds if they cannot take their “medicine”. After all, they have a serious medical condition that requires prescription medication. Funny, the silence on this point is deafening. Journalist need to ask more pointed and pertinent questions regarding their “fitness” to undertake elite sport. What other prescription medication is being taken by sportsmen and women? WADA should be much faster at closing out loopholes when they see athletes taking prescription medicines “that are not yet banded”. Is it time to say that all prescriptions should be disclosed to the authorities for approval, rather than waiting to prove performance enhancing status?


As an Australian taxpayer and supporter of the Australian swimming team; I do not expect the following.
Chinese drug cheats to be training in Australia.
Australian coaches who have or still do receive Australian funding, to be coaching our opposition.

Craig Lord

Yes, CharlesB – certainly, among the best in the world there should be a system of disclosure. This need not be directly to WADA/ A Another agency (issues of privacy in play and genuine grounds why they should be) but for those signing up to national-team codes and competing on the biggest of occasions, there can be no question that medical authorities hired and answerable to feds, WADA, the sports world, should be made aware of medical conditions that require an athlete to take a substance for heart regulation/ for diabetes (but with a specific application for diabetics with heart condition) and so forth. It is quite ludicrous that we are all left to think it perfectly normal for people who train 10-20km a day in water, who endure 3 and 4-hour plus matches on a fairly regular basis at the very edge of world-class standard should be doing so while requiring long-term treatment for heart-related conditions that in some countries would disqualify them from being an elite athlete at all.
It was 2014 when Meldonium made the ‘watch list’. it was Sept 2015 when alert was sent out to all feds, sports etc that the substance would join the banned list in Jan 2016. No excuse for not knowing that, especially when you’re one of the biggest names in sport, right up there in the ranks of your game and towing a responsibility to be aware of anti-doping issues.
“i wasnt aware of the link these past 10 years’ is just not good enough. How is it possible for anyone taking such substances not to know what they are taking when what they are taking and the link made is even to be found on wikipedia (no specialist library or knowledge required):

Meldonium – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Meldonium (also known as Mildronate, THP, MET-88, Mildronāts or Quaterine) is a clinically used anti-ischemic drug that is currently manufactured and … etc…

Meldonium was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) list of banned substances on 16 September 2015 effective starting 1 January 2016;[31] it was previously on WADA’s list of drugs to be monitored.[32][33] WADA considers the drug to be a “metabolic modulator”, similar to insulin. A December 2015 study in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis argued that meldonium “demonstrates an increase in endurance performance of athletes, improved rehabilitation after exercise, protection against stress, and enhanced activations of central nervous system (CNS) functions.”[34]

On 7 March 2016, former world number one tennis player Maria Sharapova announced that she had failed a drug test in Australia due to the detection of meldonium. She said that she had been taking the drug for ten years for various health issues, and had not noticed that it had been banned.[35][36] Earlier the same day, Russian ice dancer Ekaterina Bobrova announced she had also tested positive for meldonium at the 2016 European Figure Skating Championships. Bobrova was “shocked” about the test result, she stated that she had been aware of meldonium’s addition to the banned list (on 1 January 2016) and had been careful to avoid products containing banned substances.[37] Other athletes who are provisionally banned for using meldonium include Swedish Ethiopian-born middle-distance runner Abeba Aregawi,[38] Turkish middle-distance runner Gamze Bulut,[39] Ethiopian long-distance runner Endeshaw Negesse,[40] Russian cyclist Eduard Vorganov,[41] and Ukrainian biathletes Olga Abramova[42] and Artem Tyshchenko.[43]

So many sick folk among elite athletes… who’d have thought it?

Good that the multi-millinairess tennis star says ‘sorry I let you all down’ – and all such things should be taken into consideration but the level of suggested naivety stretches credulity to snapping point.

No silence at this site, CharlesB: we’ve been asking such questions for as long as we’ve been here. I agree that journalists, specifically those covering specific sports and sport specifically need to do more homework and care more about the story behind the story. That has long been discouraged by their offices and the view that sport is just sport.

There is evidence to suggest that the FIFA/IOC scandals exposed by the journalists that have long been working on such things and whose work has now reached the realms of the FBI and other legal authorities has been a wake-up call for sports and news desks, the autonomy of sport no longer sustainable because ‘leaders’ have failed to lead sport in the right direction and have proven themselves incapable of self-regulation time and time again.

Switzerland is catching up – but national laws and conditions that have seen the likes of IOC, FINA and others house themselves there have some way to go before we can call ‘moves to be more transparent” the stuff of genuine transparency of the kind that stretches from audits that tell us not nearly enough about the flow of funds to the things that confirm genuine determination to tackle filthy sport.

Craig Lord

I would imagine you’re not alone, p1robi

jim lockier

Commonwombat; SAL followed a process prior to any re-instigation of King’s coaching accreditation and on 1 January 2016 his coaching credentials were not reinstated. King was also refused accreditation at the Super Series in Perth with the Chinese team, not that it mattered in the end as Sun was unable to compete due to his metacarpal fracture.

jim lockier

Go back to 1 July 2015 when King’s ban kicked in to understand the Cotterell-King-Chinese connection. At the time King was coaching Sun Yang at Oasis Pools, a job he took over from Cotterell after Sun was banned from training at Miami by SAL: King’s punishment was to include a 6-month banishment from coaching swimmers of any kind, followed by a 12-month probationary licence. In total King will not be allowed to coach children under the age of 16 for three years. SAL informed the Chinese swimming federation about King’s case and outcome. On the first day of King’s ban, Cotterell was seen at Oasis coaching in King’s place until King returned to pool deck shortly after despite SAL’s ban.

FINA representatives too were informed of King’s case and the outcomes. Disappointingly King was officially accredited with the Chinese team in Kazan and SAL was unaware until King was spotted on the pool deck during pre-competition training. It became obvious the Australian ban could not be enforced internationally.

In September 2015 King was caught on pool deck at Oasis Pools coaching several U16 swimmers and it hit front page news. Again in November 2015 King was caught coaching U16 swimmers at the same facility – only one month after SAL dismissed an appeal by King to have his ban overturned. It is alleged that the circumstances under which King was employed to avoid detection and not meet working for children check requirements in NSW/Qld were extremely unethical. Management of Oasis Pools stepped in and put a stop to King being employed by any third party. It was Cotterell who came to the rescue of the U16 swimmer King was coaching at that time and took them into his own squad. Without going into detail, it was alleged it was a conflict of interest given Cotterell was reprimanded by SAL in the King investigation for misconduct and the swimmer was soon moved on to another club.

SAL followed a process prior to any re-instigation of King’s coaching accreditation and on 1 January 2016 his coaching credentials were not reinstated. It is for SAL to publicly state the reasons why. What I do know is King falsified his credentials, including a Bachelor of Sports degree and lied about being an assistant/head coach on several Australia teams.

King was also refused accreditation at the Super Series in Perth in January with the Chinese team, not that it mattered in the end as Sun was unable to compete due to his metacarpal fracture.

So now the Chinese are back at Miami because as of 1 February, it is alleged no facility will have King on pool deck. TFH and GH may not be aware of the background story and they most likely don’t care either. But no doubt the Chinese swim team turning up and training at Miami at short notice would have been totally unexpected. The Chinese were left without an Aussie coach, so what does Cotterell do? Of course repeats the same pattern – he steps in and once again fills the gap for King. Now TFH and GH are criticised for raising concerns as a clean athletes having the situation basically forced on them by their coach 30 days out from Olympic trials.


Thanks for the further backgrounding, Jim especially the more recent situation.

Re King, there are more than sufficient grounds for him to be banned for life from the sport. These are his various infractions beyond those that have brought about his recent ban:

– claimed both a bachelors and masters degree from University of Adelaide (proven to be false)
– claimed to be recipient of an Australian honour for services to swimming (another false claim)
– claimed to have been a coach of AUS Paralympics team (you guessed it)
– held a club fundraiser and pocketed the proceeds
– dismissed from an assistant coaches position at Penn State in 2010 for having a sexual relationship with a squad member

SAL, or more accurately, Swimming Queensland are being seen as either asleep at the wheel or impersonating ostriches. Add to this a very senior national team coach who clearly believes himself to be bullet-proof. Sadly one’s confidence is not high that officialdom would win that “stare-down”

Craig Lord

Thanks, Jim. I think that if only a half of what you and CW note is correct (and I believe you’re telling it like it is) then international authorities such as FINA (and if applicable the IOC for Rio), have every rule at their disposal to make sure this man is banished from the sport, as it would appear he deserves to be. And thank you for noting the point I made to CW: it is no use pointing the finger at TFH and GH (regardless of the flack that may well come); turn it on the coaches and the people that have allowed unacceptable situations to develop, presumably because the dollars drive them to do so… for it cannot be conscience when you consider the level of abuse against minors perpetrated in Chinese programs in coaching lifetimes of both the Australian coaches in question – neither of whom can have been oblivious to an appalling history (calling other ignorant all the bigger joke for it)


Thank you Jim,

I am now more sympathetic towards TFH and GH.


Oh, I’m certainly more sympathetic on knowing that DC is still thumbing his nose at everyone.

Realistically, there needs to be an ‘global’ list of those who have been made “persona non grata” anywhere in the world. Of course, that will not necessarily preclude less discriminating clubs/federations from employing these people but it must be at the price, once disclosed, of suspensions for the club and/or federation in question.

Of course that may require an international body possessing more vertebrae than FINA.


And by ‘global’ that needs to be across sports. No way should Bret Sutton be allowed to coach triathletes.

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