Is it possible to swim too fast while the whole world is watching? Ye Shiwen, who won gold in the 200-meter individual medley and the 400-meter individual medley, may be wondering about that.
John Powers, who’s been covering the Olympics for the Boston Globe since the most prominent swimmer at the Games was Johnny Weissmuller, joined Bill Littlefield to discuss the fallout from Ye’s win.
Ye is an Olympic rookie, but she won two gold medals at the Asian games two years ago and two silvers at the World Championships the same year. The timing and quality of her performances in London raised eyebrows.
“The interesting thing is the (first) victory comes right off the bat, the first night, and she beats the world champion in the event, who’s from the U.S.,” Powers said. “Her final lap in the event was faster than Ryan Lochte’s (the men’s winner). She’s from China. Given their doping history in the ’90s, when they had over two dozen positives, every great Chinese performance is under suspicion.”
John Leonard, the executive director of the World Swimming Coaches Association, called Ye’s performance “not believable,” but the Chinese have called that “biased criticism.”
“They are paying for the sins of the ’90s,” Powers explains. “For example, Japan has won almost twice as many medals in swimming this time as they did last time. No one’s saying a word about the Japanese.”
The International Olympic Committee will keep the athletes’ urine samples for eight years, so the controversy over Ye’s performance in London might not end until 2020.
“As a matter of fact, they’re still testing samples from Athens (in 2004),” Powers said. “The results won’t be final for another eight years. Hold those winning tickets.”