Are Katinka Hosszu’s Performances Being Aided?

katinka hosszu

Commentary by Casey Barrett

Katinka Hosszu is the best all-around swimmer on earth right now… What everyone is talking about, but no one wants to say… 

There is no proof. There never is, not when it matters, not when it’s needed most. So, this is what happens: the coaches grumble; the experts roll their eyes; the athletes offer lukewarm congrats at the end of each eye-popping race. Everyone talks, but no one speaks up. She has never failed a drug test, and without that proof positive test it’s all just jealous hearsay.

Except the chatter can often be true, and the visual evidence – on the body and the scoreboard – generally doesn’t lie.

Our latest Exhibit A: Hungary’s “Iron Lady” Katinka Hosszu. FINA’s reigning World Swimmer of the Year; three-time world champion; holder of five short course meter world records; and the woman who, last fall, became the first swimmer ever to surpass $1 million earned solely in prize money in the pool. She did this, of course, by globe-trotting the World Cup circuit and swimming a superhuman number of races at almost every stop.

This has resulted in a considerable amount of fawning press from the world’s swimming media. “Iron Lady” has a certain brand-name ring to it, and Hosszu keeps the headlines pumping. No one competes, consistently, at a higher level than she does. Repeat – no one, ever. Not Michael Phelps or Katie Ledecky and certainly not Ryan Lochte, who’s always tended to look like a beaten slow sack of chiseled flesh when he races while immersed in heavy training. But not Hosszu. Her consistency, her ability to recover, and her never-flagging form continues without breakdown, regardless of when or where the race is going down.

Consider last weekend at the Charlotte Arena Pro Swim Series. Hosszu raced in seven individual events. She won six: the 200 free and the 400 IM on day one; the 200 fly and 100 back on day two (along with a why-not 9th in the 400 free); and the 200 IM and 200 back on day three. It was that last double on the third day that caught many eyes. Within a sixteen minute span, Hosszu posted the top time in the world this year in the 200 IM (2:08.66) and returned after a gasp of a warm-down later with a 200 back in 2:07.79, the third fastest time on earth this year. Not bad for an in-season meet that witnessed most of the superstars in attendance plodding through some very tired, in-training swims.

Since London, this has been a pretty standard meet’s showing for Hosszu. She’s always entered in a bounty of events and she always tends to deliver incredible performances every time she touches water. I understand the whole Ultra-Short Race-Pace Training (USRPT) philosophy now in vogue, being popularized and questioned through the exploits of young Michael Andrew, yet Hosszu’s travel-the-world-collect-the-cash training program stretches the limits of even that dubious science.

No one wants to come out and point fingers. But I’m not alone, and past signposts point down some dark roads.

For the last year or so, I’ve been immersed in writing a documentary called “The Last Gold.” It’s a film about the tragedy of the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, when the last of the innocent days of Olympic sport were lost. A doped East German team of women appeared on the Olympic landscape and they forever corrupted the sport. Lives were altered and shattered, on both sides, and we’ve never viewed athletic performance in quite the same way again.

One driving narrative of our film is the failure of the press to speak up in the face of such obvious corruption. In retrospect, and even in the present tense, it was beyond obvious what was going on. We were witnessing female bodies be distorted to unnatural strength and power, and they were delivering performances that could not be explained by any rational observer. Those in the know knew what was going on, but there was no proof. So no one said much of anything. Instead, the press labeled the few brave souls who spoke out, like Shirley Babashoff, sore losers. When in fact, these were the truth tellers, the ones outraged by the ugly facts hiding in plain sight.

Nothing has changed. Forty years later, it continues to happen, in every sport, every time there’s a champion who stretches plausible achievement in ways that don’t quite pass the bullshit test for anyone paying attention. For years I reveled as the blasphemous bastard who loved to incense my Lance-loving friends (especially those who liked to ride bikes) by calling Lance Armstrong a liar and a cheat and the worst kind of athlete scum ever to compete in any sport. That’s what he was, and is, and sometimes it’s a damn shame to be right.

Secretly, every cynic hopes to be wrong.

I hope my suspicions are wrong now. It’s just that there’s a distinct smokey aroma around Katinka Hosszu’s performances these last two years. And where there’s smoke… Hell, finish the cliché yourself. Instead, I’ll share this indelicate comment made by a close friend when I first told him I was thinking of addressing this. Said he: “Being surprised that Hosszu might be doping is like going to a strip club and being surprised that the strippers have fake tits!” Apologies if that offends anyone’s delicate sensibilities. Sometimes the best similes are the crude ones.

For all of Hosszu’s incredible achievements there is one rather glaring omission from her resumé. She has never won an Olympic medal. Not gold, which is the prerequisite for American greatness in swimming, I mean any color medal. Curious for an athlete so utterly dominant in her sport for years on end. It also may go a long way in explaining her current status as not only the best, but the most speculated about swimmer in the world.

Last month, NBC Sports.com published a story about how Hosszu emerged from depression after the 2012 London Olympics, when she placed 4th in her signature event, the 400 IM. She expected gold. In her own words, she “gave up” with two laps to go and despite having more events on her program, she admitted that “my Olympics was pretty much done. I wanted to go home.”

Her spirit, she says, was shattered by the swimmer who won that 400 IM in London. 16-year-old Ye Shiwen of China, who blistered through the final 100 meters in a split so fast (58.68) that it seemed impossible for a woman – that is, without the help of performance enhancement. There was outraged talk that Ye had to be doped, some of it bordering on the xenophobic. True or not, most believed it. Did Hosszu? That’s only for her to say.

Yet, here’s one thing that we’ve learned in producing a documentary that centers around doping and the dark clouds that circle it. There is one prerequisite for athletes who dope: They must convince themselves that their competition is doing it. That is the only thing that can validate crossing this line.

In 2012, Katinka Hosszu’s spirit was crushed by a performance achieved through dubious means. Ever since, she has been the one standing atop every podium.

Note: The Hungarian Swimming Federation issued a statement defending Katinka Hosszu after this commentary was posted. Read Statement

The above commentary is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

152 Comments
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7 years ago

Yes. They most certainly are

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Hohoho
7 years ago

I like the comparison with East German swimmers except in 1988 olympics a little girl called Krisztina Egerszegi beat all of them and she was smaller on the podium than the second and third place athlete on lower steps. She must have doped too without the muscels.. Get a grip!

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OAC
7 years ago

Whatever you think, find it shocking that this libelous piece was ever allowed to be published. Absolutely zero proof, and I suspect if she was an American athlete, she would be hailed a hero. Disappointing SW.

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7 years ago

Wow..a story about nothing..good work swimming world:(..how about reporting actual events..

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7 years ago

This is most definitely an opinion piece. Let the author have her opinion, and move on. It is definitely something to consider when looking at any long and sudden period of success on such a consistent level. Yes, most will give Katinka the benefit of the doubt that her training and talent have propelled her to such a high level of performance, but there is validity in questioning such insanely fast, numerous, and consistent times in-season. Nobody, I think, wants to think Katinka is doping: it’s simply a valid concern that should be considered.

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Jukka Attilai
7 years ago
Reply to  Chris Li

The authors is a he, as far as I know…..Has it been changed while I was not paying attention?

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7 years ago

This so called “opinion piece” has no place here, in my opinion.
Btw, I’ve unliked this page.

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100swimmer
7 years ago
Reply to  Jón Bjarnason

Yes but you’ll be back to to read articles like them or not–why? because you want to see what they have to say. At least SW allows you to comment. Love this, bring these taboo topics out in the open. Let the opinions fly! ” it get’s the people talking”

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Jukka Attilai
7 years ago
Reply to  Jón Bjarnason

Completely agree! This is an article of bad taste, backed up by some political maneuvering.

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7 years ago

Chris, her success is not sudden if you actually followed her career. While everyone is entitled to an opinion, no other, hate to say American, swimmer gets such scrutiny for his/her body type, let alone longevity of success. And without name dropping any of those athletes, there are plenty of them.

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7 years ago

Chris. You are a moron. Her “sudden success” started about 6 years ago, if u have followed her collegian swimming career. Should we assume that Lebron James is doping as well, just because he jumps higher, dribbles better, shoots more effectively then other players.
Why don’t you just try to train as hard as her and dedicate your whole life to become somebody who inspires generations of future swimmers.

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7 years ago

eh… yes Lebron did dope…

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AvantSwim
7 years ago

This is a terrible surprise coming from Swimming World. I love you guys.

But even an “opinion” piece must base its opinions on fact, not one which is established here.

To start an article with “What everyone is talking about, but no one wants to say…” is beyond rudimentary argument or analysis: an unnamed consensus, “everyone,” elicited as some sort of hook, or point to the article.

This may not be libelous, but goes beyond weak and sloppy commentary into something patently unethical: who are these people, the “everyone” making these accusations against Hosszu? Indeed, the only person making these statements is clearly the writer himself, who without a shread of evidence, without one person to go on the record–not one bold journalist, not one “grumbling” coach or “eye-rolling” swimmer, not even a crazed conspiracy theorist–has to cower into insinuation instead, evoking the somehow evident truth that “everyone” is talking about this. Is the writer so out of story ideas that he must resort to “reporting” on a rumor, one which he is actually establishing himself?

If the writer thinks Hosszu is doping, he should have the courage to state his opinion in clear language and, perhaps, suffer the consequences. As it is, this piece is simply odorous.

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AvantSwim
7 years ago
Reply to  AvantSwim

And, for note , the stripper comparison shows such equal tone-deafness and analytic seriousness. I am not “offended” at all, just sorry I ever had to read such a stereotypical, gendered, club-footed comparison, and that again, this “friend” won’t go on the record.

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7 years ago

Shame for us

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7 years ago

How can you possibly say all this stuff without any concrete proof?

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7 years ago

Simply jealousy.
I think that if Katinka had been an American swimmer, you would have almost certainly written a different kind of article.
There are lots of American swimmers that achieve the same results (or even more). None say that there is a “distinct smokey aroma” around their performances. Moreover there are others that won the gold at the Olympics in London and then… they have disappeared again… this is a little strange in my opinion. In addition Hungary has always shown its tradition in swimming!
So, why should Katinka be suspected? Maybe this judgment is just a question of nationality: you are not American? so you can’t be so successful.

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7 years ago
Reply to  Giacomo Maida

I am totally agree!

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7 years ago
Reply to  Giacomo Maida

“If Katinka was American…”

Plenty of Americans were very suspicious of Lance Armstrong.

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7 years ago
Reply to  Giacomo Maida

In fact I specified “American SWIMMER”…

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7 years ago
Reply to  Giacomo Maida

Author isn’t from US…just sayin.

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7 years ago
Reply to  Giacomo Maida

Pretty much all the hungarian team is on drugs, like gyurta for example, he’s one of my favorite swimmers but its reality

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7 years ago
Reply to  Giacomo Maida

In fact I specified “American SWIMMER”…Anyway… in my opinion, the point is not about the author’s nationality, but about the swimmer’s one. Because it seems that only American swimmers are “allowed” to set world records and achieve great performances in a “honest” way.
Maybe in the next months/years I may be proved wrong … by science. Now I can just recognize her talent..

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7 years ago
Reply to  Giacomo Maida

blue eyed … all nations dope their athletes… China, Japan, Russia, Brasil, Germany etc, the latest big scandal was about Russia, don’t you remember? is only a few months ago that it was proven that the highest up officials were involved…most of the sports diplomats or whatever they are called set the qualification standards for athlete so high that an un-aided athlete cannot achieve them… it is not if they take performance enhancers and or what country they come from, but who can hide it the best and who has the newest ” undetectable” drugs….I remember Phelps swimming a crazy program in Beijing and succeeding… loads of people suspected him too… but nothing ever was found…so Katinka or any other athlete that delivers superhuman performances can only be suspected until all athletes that compete internationally are tested monthly at least once…. all of them… starting 2 years out from any Olympics…

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7 years ago
Reply to  Giacomo Maida

Of course she is doping, she is Hungarian. Come on people. Shame on you! And Chris, the Author is Canadian, but spent his entire life in the US. That’s as American as it gets. And who cares what nationality you are- smearing an athlete’s credentials just because she is strong and successful is baseless and disgusting. Comparing her to East Germans! I am saddened by the lack of support athletes get for their incredible investment into the sport.

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Jukka Attilai
7 years ago
Reply to  Giacomo Maida

Me too!!!

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6 years ago
Reply to  Giacomo Maida

He didn’t spend his entire life in the US. He was born and raised in Canada, went to High school and college here. That’s not as” American as it gets”. And nobody has said anything about Hosszu’s nationality. You’re just pissed because YOU are Hungarian. So you created a strawman argument. Of course, you ignored the arguments made in the article and pretended that it has anything to do with nationality. Nice job at obfuscating facts.

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omg
7 years ago

And what does the author think about the other supertalents (for example Ledecky)?

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7 years ago

Is the Pope Catholic?

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7 years ago

Right. He is a f**king jew

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7 years ago

….you’re a f**king bigoted anti semite..hang your head Peter, hang your head…

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George Clooney
7 years ago

Woah Heather. Woaaah. I believe Peter meant “f**king jew” in a positive way. If he was really anti-Semitic he could have displayed it thusly: “You f**kin jew don’t you dare arrest me, I’m George f**kin Clooney, got it sugar tits???” See, now that’s some ignorant dumbass stuff right there. I’m George f**kin Clooney.

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Old John
7 years ago

Mr. Barrett has simply had the courage to say aloud what the vast majority of swimmers and swimming fans have been thinking recently. He was very clear at the beginning of his article that he has no proof, since Hosszu has never tested positive. But Hosszu’s build alone ought to cause suspicion among the cognoscenti. If you have any doubts about that, compare photographs of her in college to photographs of her now. Most athletes realize it’s simply impossible to just change builds like that without artificial help.

Thank you Mr. Barrett, for saying what so many of us have thought. Many of your doubters here probably also believed in lance Armstrong until the last minute.

One piece of advice, though; if you’re going to give voice to a “controversial” opinion, you’re better off keeping your language clean, otherwise that just gives people another reason to attack you.

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coacherik
7 years ago
Reply to  Old John

There is nothing courageous about this. This same author on his own blog never wrote an article about suspicion of Michael Phelps for his heroic, never been seen 8 gold medals. Where was the doubt then? Dara Torres in all her comebacks? Nope. Ye from China, he defended her and called her accusations xenophobic. Katie Ledecky? Nothing about her rise to prominence and possible cheating. He says in one line, one sentence, I hope I’m wrong. All of this, “it doesn’t pass the smell test” talk despite her never testing positive.

We can agree on one thing. You want to be taken seriously Barrett, you should probably not use the word tits in your opinion piece. This has all been done in very poor form.

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???
7 years ago
Reply to  Old John

There does not seem to be any foundation to these claims. Why not claim the same thing then about Katie Ledecky? I think this article is unfounded.

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AvantSwim
7 years ago
Reply to  Old John

You write: “the vast majority of swimmers and swimming fans have been thinking recently.” I would take just one to come on the record. Not even the writer himself is bold enough to say it.

Utter nonsense.

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7 years ago

Wow. I think it’s an insult of the highest regard when you question the accomplishments of a swimmer who has worked so hard for her accomplishments when there is no proof whatsoever. To insult that is to insult their whole life’s work. Find proof then write a story. Can’t express how much I hate writers that try to create stories off of speculation at the expense of someone else.

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7 years ago

When did this stop beeing Swimming World News?
What a sad sad sad piece of “work”

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7 years ago
Reply to  Jón Bjarnason

“Like Us If You Want Trusted Aquatic News, Training, Technique, and Cool Articles”
No I don’t trust you, no this is not news, and it is not and will never be, a cool article.

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7 years ago

So the proof include things like “physical evidence” and some people “rolling their eyes.” This article is simply a troll, right? To get more visitors to your page? Sort of sensationalist populism like in the yellow press?

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7 years ago

It’s a one of those typical stone thrown trying goofily to hide the hand. There are several great swimmers, many from USA who’ve won tons of gold, never failed a doping test. Are they under suspicion?
To be clean you must be an american? Ask Marion Jones.

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7 years ago

First prove it

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7 years ago

It’s clear as day.

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7 years ago

vite ce midi que j’enfile le mien.

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7 years ago

Big assumptions !

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yeah like ledecky wich certently looks like a man..she even has mpb from the drugs she uses..but no one notice because she is american athlete..its right there..

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omg
7 years ago

It has nothing to do with courage, it is something else.

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Eric Lahmy
7 years ago

I do nor understand why people do noit see the obvious thing. Katinka Hosszu is the only professionnal swimmer who works like a professionnal swimmer, from the beginning to the end of the race. She is allways perfecting the things, and she has a strategy, and she loves her life because she trains with her husband (look at Coughlin: (why do you continue toi swim? – For this, for that, because my husband is a coach!”) and she has a plan, to open a swimming school… The fact that she did not win an Olympic race does not mean anything. It was the beginning of the story. The body changes are nothing. They can be attained by training and diet. And you know, you cannot be doped when you smile like that, when you are so happy. I allways remarked that doped swimmers were unhappy. The East Germans, the Chinese, the Americans swimmers did not LOOK happy. I see two superhappy women in swimming today, Melissa Franklin and Katinka Hosszu. (And many others look happy too.)

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Gergely Tasnady
7 years ago
Reply to  Eric Lahmy

Your every words are true. 🙂

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7 years ago

I honestly think this is really offensive towards Katinka Hosszu. I follow her on all social media and she trains ALOT.I mean A lot. She even said that after the 2012 Olympics, she trained super hard to never feel “depressed again. Maybe she is doping, on steroids or whatever but before the its actually proven. Please don’t make any assumptions.

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7 years ago

This is tactless. These sorts of crass and baseless opinions have no place in the sport we all love.

Now on the other hand, if there is proof – get all that prize money back and donate it to building a new pool in Zimbabwe.

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7 years ago

One never questioned the East Germans who were helping the Chinese attain a level of performance when FINA was looking hte otther way from the 1970’s for the cheating Germans to the cheating Chinese in the 1980’s and beyond. Of course PEDs can not be weeded out of all swimmers all the time every place.

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7 years ago

Precisely why I no longer subscribe to swimming world magazine. You don’t think she gets drug tested at just about every meet? It is pretty standard for medalists to get tested here in aus so if imagine similar in the us and on the World Cup circuit. She races once a month at least so when is this “doping” to be taking place un noticed. It is not unusual for a swimmer to not have peaked at their first international meet then go on a spree… Olympics are every 4 years so if you don’t do well at that one it’s a long time to wait to prove sceptics wrong.

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Leander
7 years ago

Maybe you should read up on libel law, perhaps starting with New York Times v. Sullivan, before offering legal opinions. I would consider defending a libel suit against Swimming World for posting this article on a pro bono basis (that means it would be free for Swimming World).

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Hulk Swim
7 years ago

Booo. Garbage.

The comparison to Lochte is especially stupid. Who says she’s ever in those same high training loads? In fact, everything I’ve read says just the opposite. Booooo.

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John
7 years ago

No-one blinks an eye when Ledecky drops a huge amount from the US trials to the London Olympics.

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7 years ago

I never thought of Katinka Hosszu in a doping context and I have no opinion on the matter. However, I just finished reading cyclist Tyler Hamilton’s 2012 autobiography entitled THE SECRET RACE. It is a fascinating account of life on the professional tour, complete with details on the sport’s drug-fueled culture. It’s publication pre-dates Lance Armstrong’s confession on The Oprah Winfrey Show, but it is instructive to read it and to consider the dynamics, denials and triumphs in light of sport today.

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gramos
7 years ago

Dear swimming world, this is the second purely speculative piece in two months that you have chosen to post. The first being the awful open letter to WKU swimming. Clearly this is the path you are going down, so thank you for the past articles that used to be full of insight and relevant to the swimming community. Personally, I dont think this type of article belongs in a “trade” magazine. I will be unfollowing SW and not renewing any subscription.

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Pro Swimming World
7 years ago
Reply to  gramos

An ostrich can only put his head in the ground so many times before he has to come up for some fresh air. Thank You Swimming World for allowing opinions to be viewed.

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swimmer
7 years ago
Reply to  gramos

I think this article is VERY relevant to the swimming community & all sports in general, you’ve had your head under the water for to long if you don’t thinks it’s relevant.

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Kent Johnson
7 years ago

Although I don’t really follow swimming all that closely anymore, the content of this article has probably been discussed to death in the shadows and back halls of many meets….Mr. Barrett has the guts to publish these thoughts and whispers. Back when Casey and I swam these same thoughts came up about a few swimmers and many many years later some of them were caught…. There appears to be plenty of smoke here.

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100swimmer
7 years ago
Reply to  Kent Johnson

I agree.

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ScotCoach
7 years ago

3 things here:

The author is entitled to his opinion but such articles can be kept to his blog. For SWM to publish such work is really disappointing. Amazing how one post can make an organisation lose respect and credibility, and for me SWM, you lost a lot of that today with this type of publishing.

Secondly, Katinka is far from sudden in her development. At age 16 in the 2005 European Junior Champs she had the following results: 2 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze – 200 free 2:02 (also 2:01 in a relay), 400 free 4:14, 800 free 8:43, 400 IM 4:45, and a 56.7 freestyle relay split.

So 10 years to get from there to where she is now – with total dedication, incredible attitude and commitment to multiple racing (just even trying to do what no one has ever done before is admirable), hard work day in day out, living a professional swimming lifestyle all year round, one to one coaching (since meeting her husband). Doesn’t seem beyond the realms of possibility to me.

And finally, the last time I checked, USA were dominating the medals table at the Worlds and Olympics. Don’t point the finger at outstanding European or Asian swimmers if you’re not going to point it at outstanding Americans too – the results of Phelps, Lochte, Ledecky, Franklin etc and countless others over the years should all require published suspicion too otherwise.

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TXSwimmer
7 years ago

Interesting opinion piece. I’m not totally sure what to think, but I hope she is clean. I had the opportunity to watch Hosszu workout in Texas. First thing I noticed is she has an incredible and strong body. Not an East German swimmer body mind you, but more like a strong and lean triathlete who clearly paid attention to the whole body. Second, before she even got in the water she warmed up with an uninterrupted ~20-30 minute jump rope…. wearing an elevation training mask! Third, she was definitely shooting for race speed throughout her workout. In short, I think and hope this lady is working harder and smarter… and thinking about that last 100m in London for motivation.

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7 years ago

Casey, Casey, Casey, have you closey examined her micro cycle design and formed a complete understanding of the physiological implications? Thought not.

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7 years ago

Disappointed to read this. Didn’t SwimmingWorld have her as your cover girl and now your throwing her under the bus with no evidence? Not sure why you would publish this.

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7 years ago

Well I suspect she may be PEDs but it’s not responsible for a major swim news source to publish an article like this. To the guy who commented Ledecky looked like a man …No evidence of PEDs there and she’s a teenage girl so that comment was out of line

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Reply to  TJ Johnson

so what if she is a teen?everyone say that in practice she can go head to head with men champions!is that normal?look at her body..its obvious that she is on male hormones..im not saying that hozzu isnt but come on take a look at your athletes..ledecky is 100% on t-suppl.

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7 years ago

Wonder if she were American, this article would sing a different tune.

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7 years ago
Reply to  Ildiko Szekely

The author isn’t American. Just sayin

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7 years ago
Reply to  Ildiko Szekely

Oh, sorry Aaron Wands, he was born in Canada… swam at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, went to Bolles School, in Jacksonville, Florida and went University of Southern California and Southern Methodist University… Yup, I say he is definitely not American.

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6 years ago
Reply to  Ildiko Szekely

Hrm, many swimmers from other countries train here and go to college here. That doesn’t make them American. Martin Zubero went to Bolles School and swam for University of Florida and then went on to win a gold medal in the Olympics for SPAIN. I guess by your logic the USA should claim that gold medal?

Think before posting.

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6 years ago
Reply to  Ildiko Szekely

Haha You know nothing, Aaron Wands… You should take your own advice…

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6 years ago
Reply to  Ildiko Szekely

LOL wow, nice job of COMPLETELY IGNORING what I said.

I know I was right and you were wrong. Again, think before posting. MMkay?

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7 years ago

Katinka Hosszu

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7 years ago
Reply to  Peter Lee

Katinka Ingabogovinanana. Check mate.

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Vinh
7 years ago

Lance Armstrong was an American hero.

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MimI
7 years ago
Reply to  Vinh

And so are still Phelps, Lochte, Ledecky! Why were THEIR names not mentioned in this article?

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Mimi
7 years ago
Reply to  Vinh

And so are still Phelps, Lochte and Ledecky, to name a few. Why were THEIR names not mentioned in this article??

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Fred
7 years ago
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Danjohnrob
7 years ago
Reply to  Fred

The article you posted a link for suggests that INVESTIGATIVE journalism plays a role in preventing doping scandals. There is no evidence in this article to suggest that Mr Barrett interviewed Ms Hosszu about her training or observed her methods. There is not even any statistical analysis of her results that might cast doubt upon them. While everybody is entitled to their opinions, they are not the same as investigative journalism! If this website had a section where fans could submit opinion pieces they have written, perhaps this article might belong there; however, this article came up when I clicked on the “news” heading. I literally came to this site for the first time this week; now I am questioning whether or not it is a reliable source for swimming information!

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Disappointed
7 years ago

Typical American response to any athlete from another country that’s better than them.

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TGregory
7 years ago

Katinka’s body has changed noticeably since the European swimming championships in Budapest in 2006. She swam in lane 8 of the finals of the 400 meters freestyle, a race won by Laure Manaudou in a then-world record 4:02.13. As the introductions were done lane by lane, we got a good look at each swimmer (You Tube: Laure Manaudou sur 400 m 2006 Budapest). Katinka was an athletic looking teenaged girl, with curves outward from her waist to her hips. Her shoulders were broad, her back was rounded, and she had long, strong arms and legs (she qualified 8th with a 4:13.61, a great time, as anyone who swims will tell you, and not that far off what she could do today, which I guesstimate would be between 4:05 and 4:09. She seems to use it more as a training/warm-up/warm-down event in her multi-event meet routines). In 2015 (nine years of dedicated training later) the athletic frame is filled in with muscle. Her shoulders, back, and arms are cut, and rippling abs and obliques are where the curves from her waist to her hips used to be.

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Victor Passenheim
7 years ago

There’s no comparing Hosszu’s performances to Ye Shiwen. Ye came out of nowhere at 16yo to swim an IM final 100 as fast as Lochte. That’s insane. You can, however, compare her favorably with the likes of Phelps and Ledecky. One forgets that Ledecky has beaten Hosszu several times in dual meet competition. Ledecky is 8 years younger than Hosszu. Are we to infer that Ledecky’s performances are also being “aided”? Hosszu was beaten several times by Mireia Belmonte at short course worlds – is Belmonte also being aided? Phelps swam numerous times at the 2008 Olympics where his turnaround was comparable to Hosszu’s and did so posting world-class times – are we to infer that his performances were “aided”? The same can be said for Missy Franklin at London 2012. Add to that the fact that Hosszu is not a Johnny-come-lately to the game. Her performance are consistent with no massive time drops and they have been consistent for the better part of a decade.

Post this comment or not, but really this article should have been vetted better and while we’re at it, is it not OBVIOUS the motivation for having published it on SW’s site to begin with?

For her part, I think Hosszu should decline interviews from SW or its representatives until there’s an apology and a retraction. Without ANY sort of evidence, this is simply disgrace trash talk.

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Dan Patterson
7 years ago

Apology required agreed!

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7 years ago

Super disappointed this was posted on SW. Let this guy find his own venue to broadcast this. You are better than that SW!

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love swim
7 years ago

This is incredibly disrespectful to Katinka and all her dedication to the sport of swimming! Speculation or slander of an amazing athlete with no proof is nothing but hate. Maybe some Americans should reduce their body fat. They may find out females athletes can/do have muscles without necessarily doping. There are dietary changes and/or training that can produce the same results of a lean feminine physique. I think Americans are so used to seeing overweight to obese as normal, they find lean bodies abnormal. It is a shame! I think a public apology should be instated by SW and the author.

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Brian Johns
7 years ago

The comment about media, both currently mythologizing the ‘Iron Lady’ and the East German women, reminds me of the Home Run race between McGwire and Sosa. Everybody that was so excited that baseball was relevant and interesting after the strike that the media did a poor job of being critical of the performances that they were seeing and it has tarnished not only the legacy of those athletes, but also players who played in the same era and performed without PED’s.

Bill Simmons on Grantland wrote ‘Daring to Ask the PED Question’. His is obviously focused on professional sports but I think the question is more and more important in individual and Olympic sports.

Ultimately, you state that for an athlete to validate this decision, they must believe that other athletes are doing it. Perhaps, but I think that the decision is more personal than that. My belief is that athletes who chose to use PED’s weigh the risk of being caught against the gains that they get with increased performance. I believe that there is a correlation between the increases in prize money and media coverage and the use of PED’s in athletes. That may seem like common sense, but I truly believe that has the greatest impact on an individual.

For the East Germans and the Chinese, there was systematic doping done by the countries for highly politicized reasons to show the dominance of their country when the world is watching sport. This seems to be the case with the Russians currently as well as evidenced by the recent documentary done on Russian sport organizations. The gains, financially and politically, far out weigh the risk when it comes to systematic use of PED’s for these countries.

As you stated, Hosszu is the first swimmer ever to win a million dollars in prize money alone (not including her sponsorships that likely at least match that prize money in bonuses). Up to this point, I have never known an athlete to be forced to give back their Prize Money for a positive drug test. Medals perhaps, rarely the prize money. It is easy to see the incentive for someone to use PED’s in order to dominate the World Cup circuit because the financial incentive is huge, the risk of losing the financial gains is low (even if their image is tarnished for future earnings) and the swimmer would likely get MORE money doing that than winning a medal at the Olympics.

Whether Hosszu is doing this clean or not, it is fair to ask this question because unfortunately we have now been trained to be cynical of the performances that we see. As an athlete, unless they’re caught you have to deal with performing against all athletes, but that doesn’t prevent the media or others who follow sport closely to be critical and investigate these performances deeper. Thanks again for the article.

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fluidg
7 years ago
Reply to  Brian Johns

What is fair about viciously slandering a person in a respected worldwide publication without any evidence when that person has no way to defend themselves? We certainly have different ideas about what constitutes “fair”. Imagine if some “journalist” like Casey wrote the same thing about you. Really.

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JD
7 years ago

I would have liked to read, in an article like this, some facts, and also some facts on her training methodology. She must be training in a way that allows her to race all year. It’s being done by those who follow Dr. Rushall. In one of Rushall papers he says it is possible to improve race pace every 2 to 3 weeks.

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Eric Lahmy
7 years ago
Reply to  JD

Mr Barrett please, let an old bloke tell you something: make your job, go to see Katinka and her husband, ask them what they do, how she trains, what she eats, how much she sleeps, how she concentrates, what is new and, say, holistic or revolutionary in her conception of swimming (because she has a conception of swimming), and so on, and if after that and after that only, you think that this does not make sense or does not smell good, write it. All the examples you cite are quite false. In 1973, I knew and everybody in the French elite and swimming team knew what the East Germans were doing, and I gave years ago the proof to Peter Daland, an article I wrote in September 1973 in L’Equipe about their system. But I know for you Americans, a knowledge that has not attained America is not a knowdelge!
And in Europe nobody though that this cynic Armstrong was a pure athlete (and Greg Lemond told it very well). Armstrong had a lot of money to cover his doping. Not Hosszu.
Take all her performances at the 2014 World Cup as I did in time. She did her best performances at the beginning of the Cup, when she was coming out of the World championships, when she was in top form. And slowly, her performances were going down. Less and less speed, at one or two exceptions.
But more. All the best swimmers do not go in this World Cup meeting. You have good swimmers but no great swimmers. When Belmonte was here, Katinka Hosszu did not win easily! If, tomorrow, Melissa Franklin decides to follow all the stapes of the world Cup, I can tell you, Hosszu will not win the 200 backstroke or the 200 freestyle once, and, look at the NCAA, not the 200 medley many times. This is for this reason that I did not understand that Hosszu what the Female World swimmer for FINA, and Ledecky. Ledecky was enormously outstanding, fantastic,
Hosszu was, for me, until you demonstrate the contrary, a fantastic pionnier. But, for my money, she is true and honest. I like her, I like her smile. I like her swimming, her enthusiasm, I appreciate her courage, the way she works, the way she acts with other swimmers, her decency. I don’t think she will deceive us.
For the moment, I feel upset by attacks on her, as I was upset by attackes, on their time, on Inge de Bruijn and Dara Torres!
But who knows? I only hope not to be deceived!

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7 years ago

You are disgusting swimming world!

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That’s the fall back position of jealous jerk ass’s who aren’t as good as she is. They said the same thing about Michael Phelps. Unless I see proof of drug use, like she suddenly drops massive amounts of time or she suddenly grows huge muscles than I’ll be suspicious.

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NP
7 years ago

Sarcasm ALERT :

I agree with you. It’s just too good. And Michael Phelps’s 8 gold medals is just too much. He must have been doping. Same with Mark Spitz.

Ryan Lochte had only 30 minutes between his 200 Back and 200 IM in 2008 and 2012. In 2008 he went 1:53.94 to set a new WR in 200 Back, then went 1:56.53 in 200 IM to take the bronze. Then, in 2012 he went 1:53.94 to take bronze, then went 1:54.90 to take the silver. Well, that must be drug aided.

Mary T. Meagher set world records when she was 14. That must mean she was doped!

Janet Evans beat the Easter Germans. Everyone knows that they were doping, so she must have been too.

Mireia Belmonte Garica broke the SCM 200 Fly and 400 IM world records on the same day (by the way, beating Hosszu in both). That must be drugs!

Johnny Weismuller competed at a time before drug tests! He must have been doping! There’s no way to prove other wise!

NOW, onto the logical part of my argument. “Correlation does not prove causation.” This is the most important statement to consider. There is a correlation between large builds (and/or big muscles) and steroids. This does not prove that either causes the other. “Steroids cause big muscles.” This is a true statement. The opposite statement, “Big muscles cause steroids.” is obviously absurd. However, rewording the first statement creates a much more plausible (though still dubious) declaration: “Big muscles are cause by steroids.” This can very well be the case. However, the vast majority of “big muscles” are not caused (or helped) by steroids.

Although it is most certainly not libelous for Mr. Barrett to state his opinion (that is a freedom protected in the Constitution), it is certainly not in good taste. If he was truly suspicious of Mrs. Hosszu’s great accomplishments, then it is strange that he did not accuse any of the great swimmers who came before her of doping. Did he charge Michael Phelps with doping? Katie Ledecky? Missy Franklin? Dara Torres? Janet Evans?

As for your prerequisite for doping: “[Athletes] must convince themselves that their competition is doing it.” It is absurd. This may be true of people who truly do not wish to do anything bad, and are trying to justify their actions to themselves. However, this is a general statement that tries to encompass everyone; this generality is simply not true. The East German government was under no impression that other athletes were doping. The East German swimmers doped because their totalitarian government forced them to. The same with the recent revelation about Russian systematic doping. Besides, for a cynic, you are awfully positive about the human moral system. Some people are just plain greedy, and would dope simply for the fame, money, and strength, regardless of whether their competition was doing the same.

The point that Mr. Barrett makes in drawing attention to the fact that Hosszu has not won an Olympic medal is boarding on absurd. She has not won an Olympic medal because she was simply never good enough to win one at the time of the Olympics. Now that this has changed, he points it out as another example of her alleged doping. This is, at the very least, unreasonable.

Perhaps these concerns that Mr. Barrett has about the “distinct smoky area surround Katinka Hosszu’s performances” are true. But there seems no reason to slander her name based on suspicions and guesswork.

If she is taking steroids she shows only two of the normal side-effects: an excellent physique and incredible performances (and these are prerequisites of any great swimmer). Her voice is not unreasonably deep. She seems to have no excess growth of body hair. She seems genuinely happy, displaying none of the mood swings and depression that can be associated with anabolic steroids.

To sum up, I believe that Mr. Barrett is entitled to his opinion. And I believe that the voice that says, “There is something suspicious here,” can be invaluable to the public good. However, I see nothing here more suspicious than, say, Phelps, Lochte, or Ledecky. I think it is unfair to Hosszu and to her husband that she be charged with such a serious offense without a shred of evidence. All of her feats could easily be attributed to the intense training she does. Suspicions are all good and well, but all the cases seem so similar; it seems to be suspect them all, or suspect none. Hosszu does not seem to stand out, in my mind, as a person worthy of being accused in such a fashion.

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Victor Passenheim
7 years ago
Reply to  NP

DITTO, DITTO, DITTO!!!! @NP

Of course, this may be a new route which SW wishes to pursue: innuendo, cynicism & yellow journalism.

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Dunc1952
7 years ago

I am not to the place yet where I conclude there is a fire behind the smoke Casey comments on. I hope and believe there may in fact be a legitimate path followed by Katinka to reach her current level. But there is certainly smoke.

Journalism is meant to flesh out where smoke is seen to see if there is in fact a fire. Swimming World does not state a conclusion of “fire” in posting Casey’s commentary; they just allow one of the western world’s primary voices on things wrong in our sport, a place to set out what appears. Swimming World is a fine example of journalism in this area, following East German smoke for over a decade until Stasi records confirmed the fire and about the same period of time for the Chinese fire to be seen in the PEDs found in athlete luggage intercepted on the way to a World Championships about 10 years after the smoke most strongly billowed in ’94 Rome. Likewise for Irishwoman Michelle Smith until she was found to have falsified a test specimen. Swimming World is also working to uncover drug issues related to Kazan.

The consistent scheme in each of these instances is the overwhelming set of comments, as here today, based on anti-American emotion. Commentators try to attack Casey by saying, “what about when Americans swim fast? What about Phelps and Ledecky?” As several commentators noted, Casey grew up in the American swimming system gaining insights as a Junior National champ for Murray Stephens in the Anita Nall/pre Michael NBAC era, for Bolles School in the Greg Troy era and as an All-American for USC in the Mark Schubert era, followed by his own Olympic Semifinalist experience in Atlanta … for Canada. Since then he’s written for Bob Costas on NBC’s Olympic Coverage,for both swimming and even the Winter Olympics, with Emmys and Peabody awards coming in tow, developed both a swim club and a large learn to swim academy in New York. He’s earned his stripes to comment on issues in swimming.

But if you go back through the net to see his published thoughts, you see thoughts of someone who has clearly been exposed to the strengths and weakness of the sport and is an equal opportunity critic where he sees smoke. Considering his columns on subjects such as pedophiles in USA Swimming, Phelps’ travails, difficulties in the NBAC supergroup in summer 2014, interviews over SW on “issues plaguing swimming,” contrary to the comments you might read above, Barrett is not exactly seen as unjustifiably pro-American on swimming issues.

Now that I’ve defended both Swimming World and Barrett for setting out the subject, let me give a few reasons why I’m thinking it may just be smoke, with a flavorful career coming forth.

1. She made her biggest advance, not in these recent months but, as with many foreigners who have grown in the american college system, she made huge advances in her college years at USC.
2. With her different training approach, we swimming lifers can’t sense her pattern of midseason/end of season performances. She may be a victim of simply thinking creatively outside the box, where her great in season work is essentially part of her training, so she shouldn’t have a big drop at the end as others following the more traditional path. She may simply have to get way out front with her midseason performances to achieve the biggest prizes at the end.
3. By all accounts I’ve seen she is remarkably disciplined with nutrition and dry land and techniques to dissipate exercise residue in her system, aiding between effort recovery.
3. She has long been a fine flyer and an adequate breaststroker for her IM, but she has made substantial improvement in her backstroke technique and freestyle as well. She’s gone from adequate backstroker to world SC champion.
4. She’s improved her underwaters.
5 She’s willing psychologically to go out and lay it on the line. She will likely hold on for the big wins sometime.

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Eric Lahmy
7 years ago
Reply to  Dunc1952

Okay, this is the beginning of the beginning of a thinking. But how can you defend the article of Casey and writing that? That is the condamnation of the article of Casey. He DID NOT DO THE WORK<

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NP
7 years ago
Reply to  Dunc1952

May I preface my reply by saying that I have great respect for you as a commentator. I believe your notes bring great insight into these conversations.

First of all, I tend to agree with you about where Mr. Barrett and Swimming World are coming from. I see that there is “smoke on the water”, but not yet “fire in the sky” (if you’ll excuse the Deep Purple reference).

The only thing I see differently is that this “smoke on the water” is caused by her rapid rise to the top. But this smoke can be seen in many other swimmers’ rises. Phelps, Ledecky, Egerszegi all rose rapidly. Perhaps, though, these are different because they rose to international prominence at a young age. Perhaps it is Hosszu’s age at the time of her rise that sends up the warning flags.

I would like your opinion.

Thank you.

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7 years ago

I’d like to share a story. In the 90s, many people had suspicions about some of the Chinese female sprint champions – particularly around their performances at the 1994 Rome World Championships. Whether the suspicions were justified, I will not judge or comment upon. However, at the time, I mentioned these views over a quiet beer with a close friend – a Chinese coach working in China with elite swimmers. I said, “How do you explain so many great performances coming from a group of female swimmers all from the same province in China?”. He replied, “how do you explain as an Australian that so many of your great distance swimmers all come from the same area in the same state in your country?”. I was shocked – appalled – horrified that he could think this. I leaped to the defence of my country and said it was because of great coaching, hard work, talented athletes, a culture of success, sports science, innovative programs etc etc. I told him I was 100% completely and totally confident our athletes and coaches were impeccable in all aspects of their preparation and performance. I felt like hitting the guy (but didn’t). How dare he suggest something like that. He said, “Well maybe you shouldn’t be so quick to judge us”. Performance enhancing drugs are a blight – a cancer on all sport. Their use should be condemned and all athletes educated from a young age that the use of performance enhancing drugs (or social drugs, the inappropriate use of prescription medications, alcohol binge drinking for that matter) should rejected at all times. However, let’s all be careful about making judgments based on rumor, innuendo and suspicion and just work harder on improving the out-of-competition, without notice, randomised testing programs and on educating coaches, athletes and administrators around the world about the issues.