By Phillip Whitten
ATHENS, August 19. THE shocking disqualification of Aron Peirsol after he won the 200 meter backstroke this evening was overturned on appeal, just minutes before the medals ceremony for the event.
Peirsol, 21, the world record-holder and world champion, easily beat a strong field, touching in 1:54.95, an Olympic record and just off his own world record of 1:54.74 set at the US Trials in July.
But there was a delay in posting the official results. After several minutes, the scoreboard flashed “DSQ” beside Peirsol’s name. There was a collective gasp by the crowd, then a cascading chorus of boos. Peirsol shrugged his shoulders in disbelief.
“It sounds pretty bogus to me,” Peirsol said. “I don’t know what it is and I’ve got to go figure it out.”
The judges ruled that Peirsol made an illegal turn at the 150-meter mark, a highly dubious proposition. Cecil Colwin has called Peirsol "the foremost stroke technician in world swimming today."
The United States immediately filed a protest and FINA overturned the disaqualification about 30 minutes later. There was no word as to the identity of the official who had made the original call.
When Peirsol was finally presented with his gold medal, a huge cheer erupted from the crowd. Rogan wound up with silver in 1:57.35, while Romania’s Razvan Florea settled for bronze (1:57.56).