The Week That Was: Sun Yang Saga Continues, Italy Cancels Olympic Trials For Coronavirus

Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

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The Sun Yang story continues as his coach Denis Cotterell has ended his tenure with the Chinese Swimming Association after the full report of why Sun was handed an eight year ban was released to the public last week. His Chinese supporters have also turned on him and apologized to his chief rival Mack Horton for how they treated him online after the podium protest at the 2019 World Championships.

The Italian Swimming Federation also cancelled their Olympic Trials amidst the coronavirus outbreak ongoing in the world.

Read below the five biggest stories in the Week That Was sponsored by Suitmate.

The Week That Was #5: Pernille Blume, Siobhan Haughey Move to Energy Standard


Siobhan Haughey. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Dan D’Addona

Siobhan Haughey, fresh off of breaking her own Hong Kong record in the 100 free, is heading to a new professional team in the International Swimming League (ISL).

Haughey, who finished fourth at the 2019 World Championships in the 200 freestyle, was a member of the DC Trident last season, scoring the most points on the team that finished third among the four American teams.

“I have been swimming for many years, and I think it is important to keep swimming fun and interesting, especially after the Olympics,” Haughey told Swimming World. “By joining Energy Standard, I get to train with top swimmers in the world and learn from them. I really enjoyed being a part of the Trident family during the first ISL season and am grateful to GM Kaitlin Sandeno for bringing me to the ISL. I am excited for this new opportunity and cant wait to swim for Energy Standard.”

After signing Siobhan Haughey and Zsuzsanna Jakabos this week, Energy Standard signed Danish sprinting sensation Pernille Blume on Sunday.

Blume was a member of the New York Breakers during the first season of the ISL. She scored 45 points during the season, third highest female on her team.

The Breakers struggled points-wise and did not make the Las Vegas championship meet.

#4: Marius Kusch, Jacob Heidtmann Punch Tokyo Tickets at TYR Pro Swim Series


Marius Kusch; Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

By Craig Lord, Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

Germany’s Jacob Heidtmann and Marius Kusch, both training under the guidance of coach David Marsh in San Diego, raced inside the cut for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in action at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Des Moines last night.

For Heidtmann, a 4:12.40 victory over 400m medley, produced a provisional ticket to Tokyo with a bonus card in the mix: a second shot in the Olympic pool four years after he was disqualified  at his first Games in Rio after finishing fifth fastest in heats. Last night, he put on show the work he’s been putting in as he raced well inside the 4:15.0 cut set by Germany.

Kusch as first over the line yesterday, a prelims effort of 51.54 in the 100m butterfly inside the 51.80 target and punching his Tokyo ticket provisional in nature only in so far as there being two berths per nation per event at the Games and the German Championships in Berlin (April 30 – May 3) offer a last chance for swimmers to show their hand.

Those inside time cuts must show up but can be overtaken for a ticket to Tokyo only if two others finished ahead of then and race further inside target than they already have. The top two in each event among those inside times cuts will be nominated for selection by the DOSB (German Olympic Committee). Relays will be selected from the best times swum by individuals from either heats or finals at nationals.

The Week That Was #3: Tokyo 2020 Olympics Can Be Postponed To End Of Year Under IOC Contract


Tokyo 2020 aquatic facility – Photo Courtesy: Tokyo 2020

By Craig Lord, Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

Japan’s Government has been told that the contract for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games specifies that the event must be held within 2020, allowing for a postponement from July until further towards the end of the year between October and December should the coronavirus emergency make that a safer option.

Cancellation of the Games, as suggested as a more likely outcome than postponement by IOC member Dick Pound a week ago, would be very costly for Japan and all down the chain of commercial interest.

However, Seiko Hashimoto, Japan’s Olympics Minister said, in response to a lawmaker’s question in parliament, made a point of announcing that Tokyo’s Olympics contract only “calls for the Games to be held within 2020” and that it “could be interpreted as [to] allow a postponement.”

The same contract also speaks to Pound’s take: the International Olympic Committee has the right under the hoisting agreement to cancel the Games.

#2: Denis Cotterell Quits Chinese Swimming & Will Not Support Sun Yang’s Appeal

Sun Yang and Denis Cotterell

Denis Cotterell with Chinese charge Sun Yang – Photo Courtesy: USA Today Sports

By Craig Lord, Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

Denis Cotterell, Sun Yang’s Australian coach, has quit Chinese swimming and will not support the swimmer’s further appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal against the eight-year ban imposed on him by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) after a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing.

Sun’s swimming career came to a thudding halt on Friday February 28 when the CAS declared in favour of WADA against Sun and his backers at FINA, the international swimming federation whose Doping Panel outlined the excoriating details of an acrimonious anti-doping mission to the swimmer’s home in September 2018 but concluded that a caution was enough. WADA begged to differ, pressed for a charge of tampering and won the argument, the full report of which was released last Wednesday.

Since then, Chinese fans have started to turn on Sun. Now Cotterell has severed ties and says he will not support Sun’s last appeal.

Asked if he supported Yang’s appeal, Cotterell said: “No.”

The Week That Was #1: Italy Cancels Olympic Swim Trials & Wave Of Other Aquatic Championships In Coronavirus Lockdown

Federica Pellegrini of Italy celebrates after winning in the women’s 200m Freestyle Final during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, 24 July 2019.

Photo Courtesy: PATRICK B. KRAEMER

By Craig Lord, Swimming World Editor-in-Chief

The Italian Swimming Federation (FIN) has cancelled its Olympic Trials and a host of other aquatic national championships, in open water, water polo, diving and synchronised swimming, as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency lockdown measures in Italy that were extended to the entire country today.

The news came as FINA’s leadership ponders a three-month moratorium on all its events, including Olympic test competitions and all World Series and Leagues across the spectrum of aquatic sports.

There is no alternative date as things stand nor as yet any proposal for how the Italian swimming team might be selected for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The likes of Gregorio Paltrinieri, Olympic 1500m freestyle champion, his teammate Gabriele Detti and Federica Pellegrini would be among those offered automatic berths off Italy at Tokyo 2020 should the Olympic Games proceed but for may the trials were what they had been working for.

Italy is the second nation to suspend its Olympic trials after China.