By Catronia Dixon
Brisbane, Australia – Olympic and World champion Susie O’Neill has expressed suspicion over the recently-announced dramatic down-sizing of the Chinese swim team for next month’s Pan Pacific Championships in Sydney.
The star butterflier questioned the motives of the Chinese but said the meet would be better off without the controversial team which has been tainted by scores of positive tests for illegal performance-enhancing drugs over the past decade.
O’Neill’s remarks came in the wake of news that only five Chinese swimmers – not 20 as initially specified – would take part in the championships at the Sydney 2000 Olympic pool. “They can stay away if they are going to cheat,” O’Neill said. “I don’t have any respect for the Chinese swimmers in general…they have been cheating over the years…but this does look a little suspicious. The same sort of thing happened at the 1995 Pan Pacs only then they were banned from the meet so they couldn’t compete.”
“I remember thinking at the time it would be good if they were there so I could see how they were going. But in the end it didn’t really matter – in 1996 they seemed to be relatively cleaner than they have been at other competitions.
O’Neill, along with the entire Australian Pan Pac team, will have a final test before the Pan Pacific Championships at the Telstra Grand Prix in Brisbane.