By Craig Lord
Sheffield, England – Perhaps it was inevitable that, with another two victories at the European round of the World Cup in Sheffield under his belt, Ian Thorpe, the 17-year-old Australian prodigy, would attract allegations of drug-taking.
Manfred Thiesmann, the national coach of the German men’s team, raised the spectre that has haunted the sport in recent years by telling a German swimming magazine yesterday: “A lot of people suspect him [Thorpe] of doping.
“When I was sitting on the coaches’ bench in Sydney at the World Cup, every coach wondered how it was possible. There’s a lot of skepticism about him, but we can’t prove it, so you can’t blame him.”
Thiesmann went on to suggest that the margin by which Thorpe was breaking records was as unusual as the times posted by the Chinese team at the world championships in 1994. Those results gave rise to the Chinese being lambasted by Swimming World, and later by Australia, among other countries, for drug abuse before the charges were proved. Later it turned out that the charges were, indeed, true.
Thorpe said after the races yesterday that it was inevitable accusations would be made and suspicions raised in a sport that had suffered from such a big drug problem. “It’s something that I know happens, but I know I’ve never taken anything. Taking drugs is inexcusable,” he said.