Shirley Babashoff Wants Her Place In History – Exclusive Swimming World TV Interview

Shirley Babashoff 2016

Shirley Babashoff sat down for an exclusive interview with SwimmingWorld.TV’s Brent Rutemiller to discuss the 1976 Montreal Olympics and the systematic doping of the East German women swimmers.

Rutemiller touched on a lot of subjects including Babashoff’s place in history, The Last Gold Documentary, forgiving the East German women, possible legal action against the IOC, redistributing medals, ways to improve the IOC’s image, Lilly King and the Russians, and her book – Making Waves. The interview is full of candid and unfiltered remarks that still define the golden girl of the 70’s and her yet to be defined place in the record books.

Just recently, the California Senate passed Resolution 88 urging the Internationals Olympic Committee (IOC) to revisit the wrongs of the 1976 Olympics.

“The IOC needs to be shaken really hard and brought into this century.” – Shirley Babashoff

Babashoff said that she would be willing to meet with Thomas Bach, president of the IOC, but only if they are willing to revisit the 8-Year Rule. “I would love that (meeting Thomas Bach). I would be afraid that he would just spew the 8-year rule at me. It was 13 years after the fact (referring to the East Germans) before we had proof. Why is there a statute of limitations? It is just dumb.

“It is like trying to talk to a crazy person. Who knows how the IOC thinks? There are probably some people on the IOC who don’t even know swimming,” said Babashoff.

When asked if she ever considered legal action, Babashoff said that, “A class action suit would be great. We don’t want compensation, we just want our place in history. I’m not in this for just me. If they said, ‘Okay Shirley, here are your medals’, I would say, ‘No! Everyone needs their medals.'”

The fact that the Russians were caught doping their athletes prior to the Rio Olympics was not lost on Babashoff whose 1976 story is really today’s story.

“I am still angry” – Shirley Babashoff

To Babashoff the East German swimmers where made in a laboratory and not in a pool with all the hard work that goes into training. “I feel that the East Germans were not swimmers. They were strangers to me. They are just strangers who learned how to swim. … I want my place in history.”

Enjoy this Exclusive Interview with Shirley Babashoff


  1. Pat Kennedy

    Shirley Babashoff is one of the greatest swimmers of all time.

  2. avatar
    Nancy Stanbury

    Thank you Shirley, you are a great inspiration! I swam from age 5 to 17 in Sacramento in the 50s and always respected you. Good going girl.

    • avatar
      Cynthia mae Curran

      She is, a great swimmer.

  3. Nancy Stanbury

    We looked up to Shirley back in our days in the pool. Way to go Shirley!

  4. avatar
    David Vicente

    Shirley was screwed and should sue the IOC for not her gold medals but for a sizable monetary award. Unfortunately, the IOC President is German, is biased against Americans, and can be easily bought off. I’m sure he will tell the USOC, if you want the 2024 Olympics you better not support her and the USOC will cow down. In addition, you can bet he doesn’t want to bring up skeletons, especially since the skeletons are German. Once again, everything is against Shirley and the other American girls. All I can say is, fight Shirley, fight. I always like to think that good wins over evil (i.e. Allies vs. the Nazis) and Shirley will get her just due.

  5. John Razi

    Brent….great-work !!!! …plus, as Shirley says, mega-kudos….for your courage-strength…to really stay-with this vital story. Still ubiquitously relevant today ! Grateful !!!! – jmr

  6. avatar
    Terrence Majewski

    Shirly is a great swimmer

  7. JoAnn Sullivan

    Love you Shirley you go get them girl! We are all behind you.

  8. avatar
    Bill V.

    The history needs no clarification or revision, and you can’t change it.
    It is what happened.
    That’s what history is: a record of what happened.
    The only thing history really needs is better students.

  9. Kit Selznick

    You’re the greatest in my book, Shirley! My 4 girls all swim and I’ve passed along your story throughout their careers, you’re not forgotten!

  10. avatar
    JoAnn Sullivan

    Love you Shirley don’t give up we are all behind you.

  11. avatar
    Jan Miller

    Keep fighting Shirley. I read your book, I couldn’t put it down. Love you.

  12. Malcolm Lambert


  13. Malcolm Lambert


  14. Bobbi Vasquez

    I remember het she was amazing?❤

  15. Anne Saxon

    She should receive what is rightfully hers. She was the best.

  16. Lynne Miller

    We are with you, Shirley. We are so proud of you, too. Keep the pressure on. We all need to. Every year this is allowed to be left as is – is a black spot on the IOC. Correct the record. And make sure the medals end up in deserved hands. More than just Shirley Babashoff were harmed and wronged. I applaud you.

  17. Karen Kroeter Briers

    And she deserves it!!!!!! Everyone should watch The Last Gold.

  18. Lauren Whitfield Newman

    Wait – how does she actually spell her first name? (Everyone is spelling it “Shirley” in their comments.)

  19. avatar

    I feel that the East German women swimmers should keep their medals. They were victims in this situation. As a swimmer watching the women you could clearly tell they looked like men. I don’t think these athletes knew what was happening or had any control or choice. I think the records should have an asterisk. I also think all the clean athletes should receive their metals.

  20. Joanne Saul-Zachau

    I swam the same time as you and I always was thinking of you all these years. It’s about time you get your recognition!

  21. Lisa Crowley Walls

    I have swum with her. She was an amazing swimmer who competed internationally against women who looked, and sounded like men. All of us swimmers knew there was doping. She, and all the clean athletes, deserve their places in history.

  22. Graham Taylor

    We hear about some individuals who have been caught using drugs. From 1973 until 1988, the East Germans completely dominated world swimming. The doping was not confined to a few individuals but was allegedly organised by the government. None of those women lost any of their world records or medals.

  23. Gordon Heck

    Anyone else hear “…and don’t call me Shirley” in their head reading the headline?

  24. Kiki Farmer

    Swimming powers that be, get you act together, do the right thing WHILE the affected folks are alive!

  25. Lincoln Williams

    And you have a peace night and all of you and blessing

  26. avatar
    John King

    The 8 year rule is crap. Didn’t they go back much further than 8 for Lance! They throw it out when they want and ignore when they don’t.