Kyle Chalmers Says He “Probably Can’t Trust Half” His Rivals Because Of Rampant Doping In Swimming

Kyle Chalmers - Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr/Swimming Australia Ltd.

Olympic 100m freestyle champion Kyle Chalmers doubts half his rivals because “there’s a lot of doping that goes on everywhere in swimming”.

Chalmers has expressed his admiration for Australia teammate Mack Horton’s anti-doping stance in relation to Sun Yang in the wake of the Chinese swimmer’s positive test in 2014 and then in 2019 after this author and The Sunday Times revealed details of an acrimonious dispute with anti-doping agents in September 2018 that would lead to an eight-year suspension being imposed on Sun by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Now, in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Chalmers says:

“There’s a lot of doping that goes on everywhere in swimming. You know it’s going on, and I know that I can probably not trust half of the guys I’m competing against.

“I know we as an Australian swim team are so obviously against it — look at Shayna Jack, she failed a drug test this year and she got a four-year ban just because we hate drug cheats in Australia.”

Jack has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the four-year ban imposed on her in Australia. She cites contamination as the explanation for the presence of a banned substance in her system in 2019. Yesterday, her lawyer Tim Fuller revealed that Jack had been the victim of an extortion attempt.

She was sent home on the cusp of racing at the World Championships in Gwangju last year, though “personal reasons”, not a doping positive, was cited as the reason for her departure by Swimming Australia at the time. Jack revealed her positive test as the Gwangju 2019 events was drawing to a close against the backdrop of warnings handed down to Horton, Sun, Britain’s Duncan Scott and respective federations by FINA.

Days later, Horton staged a peaceful podium protest against Sun after the 400m freestyle final. After receiving the silver medal, Horton refused to stand for podium photographs with gold medallist Sun and other medallists. In 2014, on the way to defeating Sun for the Olympic crown, Horton called his Chinese rival a “drug cheat”.

Chalmers said he admired Horton’s courage and supported him through the ensuing saga. The sprinter told ABC:

“For me, Mack standing up against Sun Yang and making a big announcement about it was inspiring. I supported Mack from afar. I wasn’t going to go into the media and stand against it, it’s a big thing to do. It takes a lot of courage and it was a very scary time for Mack.

“Now it’s completely turned the other way, the Chinese are supporting Mack and have turned on Sun Yang for being a liar and lying to them.”

Kyle Chalmers says that while having to race “cheats” is frustrating, it also makes him more determined to succeed:

“For me, I just want to beat anyone on any given day. I don’t care what my competitors have in their system, I still want to be better than them.”

Kyle Chalmers – Not Your Typical Alpha Male But The Olympic Champion Nonetheless


Flashback to Rio and Aussie gold for Kyle Chalmers – Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

A line in the Harvard Business Review back in 2007, considered this aspect of the “Alpha Male”, when the term is applied not to a Silverback but a human: “What is surprising is that behind the Alpha’s big, brash persona is an often insecure and driven individual who fears being unmasked.”

Kyle Chalmers hints at that when he talks of life behind the curtain as an elite sprinter in the realm of the “alphas of the swimming world” and their “mind games”. Says Chalmers:

“Sprinters are predominantly big, strong, muscly dudes and there’s always mind games. You hear stories of people getting into fights in the marshalling room. You have people death-staring, people walking around slapping themselves, a bit of spitting goes on at each other occasionally.

“It’s always ‘who’s strutting around with their chest out the biggest?’. I’m not like that at all, I’m quite reserved. I sit up the back of the marshalling room. I might do a bit of slapping out on the pool deck, but I have complete confidence in myself and my abilities so I find most of those things as unnecessary and kind of funny.”

Kyle Chalmers recalls his own rivalry with fellow sprinter James Magnussen and notes:

“When I was breaking into the team, I stole James Magnussen’s spot and there was a bit of a rivalry there for a little bit, especially qualifying for Rio. He was saying some things in the media about me and that he didn’t see me as a threat – just mind games.

“James Magnussen made me grow as an athlete, and I would read that stuff in the media and use it as motivation and go ‘I don’t want this guy to beat me, and I’m going to do everything in my power to beat him’. Now we’re great mates, he’s retired and we chat all the time.”


  1. Robert Burke

    Right Kyle. It’s practically the 90s of MLB. I mean testing is so lax, just a couple days go an Irish swimmer failed a test for an eczema medicine.

  2. Pablo Valedon

    He speaks the truth, and it is absolutely true that doping is rampant in our sport.
    Testing is lacking and WADA is always playing catch up.
    Thus, depriving the clean athletes the opportunity to experience the thrill of victory, instead of the agony of defeat by a doping cheats💪🏊‍♀️🏊‍♂️

  3. John Ian Bobbitt

    Legit. I attended a division 1 school on swimming scholarship for two years before (after all those years of training) I HAD to switch to an academic scholarship.

    And when I’ve required a shot or blood taken ever since, it entertains the nurses to no end how bad I clutch up for the needle. If they had any idea WHY I hate them so much, they’d likely not find it so funny. They gotta have at least one man come in to help hold me still.

    …Just like they used to.

    Bright side: I’d be conversely shocked if someone told me intravenous drug use was making its way into the sport. I’d cry BS. We’re all so prick-shy it would never happen.

    • avatar
      Anti-Doping Swimmer

      So you’re insinuating you took drugs in college? That sort of behavior would likely shut down a program or at the very least open an investigation. Not trying to belittle your experience in any way, just curious because if I knew any teammates had been taking drugs on my team I would report it immediately.

      From an NCAA All-American

    • avatar
      Interested reader

      Would love to hear your reasoning in not reporting drug usage on your swim team if you are, in fact, against doping

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