Swimming Australia’s Verhaeren Urging FINA to Take Action on Madeline Grove’s Case

Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach of the Australian swimming team, Jacco Verhaeren, has expressed an urgency to FINA to hear the case of Australian butterfly Madeline Groves. Groves currently sits in limbo as to whether or not she will be eligible to compete at next year’s Commonwealth Games after allegedly missing three unannounced drug tests – all within a 12-month-period.

Fellow Aussie’s Thomas Fraser-Holmes and Jarrod Poort were also issued breach notices for missed drug tests in May, with Fraser-Holmes being sentenced with a one-year ban from competition. Poort’s future, similar to Groves, is currently uncertain.

Athletes must allot one hour-long slot in three-month blocks to be available for testing and according to Groves’ lawyer, she had done so. Shortly after the swimmers were notified of their infractions Groves hired lawyer Tim Fuller to represent her. Fuller explained to The Sydney Morning Herald that,

“We’re confident it will be dismissed at a hearing. We don’t believe they have, at least in Maddie’s case, made good enough efforts to get hold of her. They called her coach in Australia and there’s no missed calls on her phone. They alleged they called the number. I can get hold of her every time. She was in the location she said she would be at. Maddie’s case is very strong.” 

The 22-year-old butterflyer trains under Michael Bohl, an elite coach based out of Griffith University. While she did not compete at the recent 2017 FINA World Championships, she still remains one of Australia’s top butterflyers, having collected a silver medal in the 200-meter race in Rio.

According to Verhaeren, Swimming Australia has mostly been a spectator during the entire process and has had little control of timing or outcomes.

Verhaeren explained to The Sydney Morning Herald,

The difficulty for us as well is that we don’t have information as to where this case will land. We all hope for the best outcome. It must be extremely difficult awaiting a case where you don’t know the outcome. Hopefully we’ll see her here competing at Comm Games because she’s very valuable.

The head coach also commented on Fraser-Holmes and some of the reactions to his suspension explaining,

Federations are basically left out of this. This was also the perception with Tommy Fraser-Holmes. As a federation, you can only give a certain amount of support; no money, no coach, no pool, no program. You’re not allowed. You can’t move here. 

Read more from The Sydney Morning Herald here