Australian Coach Denis Cotterell Defends China Amid Doping Scandal

Australian swim coach Denis Cotterell has defended China in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald amid China’s doping scandal that dates back to 2021.

According to the reports by the New York Times and the ARD (Germany), 23 Chinese swimmers tested positive for the banned substance trimetazidine (TMZ) at the start of the calendar year in 2021, about seven months before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The swimmers were not sanctioned by CHINADA as traces of TMZ were reportedly found present in the hotel the swimmers stayed at. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) upheld CHINADA’s decision.

The Australian native Cotterell has been coaching with the Chinese Swimming Association for the last two years but has a longer history of coaching swimmers from China including Sun Yang who notably tested positive for TMZ back in 2014, resulting in a 3-month ban.

“I am happy to say I’m absolutely in support of my swimmers and dispute any suggestion of anything orchestrated,” Cotterell said.

“I see what they go through. I see the measures. I can tell you the stories. I know the facts and I am comfortable.”

Later Cotterell reemphasized his support saying, “I’m 100 percent supportive of my athletes. That’s consistent with everything I stand for. I’m OK with it. I will stay with my team until Paris and do the best I can to help the athletes who I am working with get the best result. It’s drawn me back to coaching. I did what I did in Australia for so many years. I love the sport.”

Cotterell spoke of the conditions that Chinese swimmers have to endure from a young age. Once the swimmers turn 14, they are not allowed to eat in public out of risk of contaminated food. Cotterell has been told by another coach who was present at the same hotel where the positive tests occurred that the kitchen conditions were “atrocious.”

ARD of Germany reported that investigators “found traces of trimetazidine in the extractor hood, on spice containers and in the drain.”

“People who come to China know that contamination is an issue,” Cotterell said. “It’s an unfortunate aspect of being here. Plenty of people come and know they can’t eat out on the streets.

Cotterell gave an example of traveling and dealing with food in the airports as the swimmers are not allowed to eat in public places. “We were held up for six hours recently. They were stuck in the airport. They can’t go and eat any food anywhere. The national training base had to prepare food and send it to the airport for the kids to eat. That is their daily life. That’s the precautions and sacrifices they take to avoid that risk.”

Cotterell also spoke of his current coaching status with Sun Yang. Cotterell was the coach of Sun Yang in 2014 when Sun tested positive for TMZ and was subsequently banned for three months. After the ban, Swimming Australia ordered Cotterell to stop coaching Sun but Cotterell continued his work with Sun for the time being.

Cotterell said that Sun was “obsessed” with making sure he did not consume contaminated food. Cotterell also said that Sun has asked Cotterell to coach him once again as he trains while serving a four-year suspension that ends next month. Cotterell said, “He’s asked me to coach him … but I’m with China swimming.”

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1 month ago

The job of WADA is not to investigate the source of the TMZ. WADA’s job is to check athletes for the use of banned substances and report it. Also, In any case of a positive drug test, no one cares where the drug in the blood came from. It’s there, you got a positive probe, and you are out. Finally, how long does it take for the results to come out? Years? “Someone” figured it out…its easier to buy WADA, rather than reinvent the wheel.
It’s a shame because swimming stayed a relatively drug-free sport after the Eastern Block era. Unfortunately, some players never changed, and still operate like the good old days.

1 month ago

and there goes the last shred of his integrity….

Follow the money
1 month ago

Dude is getting paid. Bowman will do the same thing in a similar situation.

Former swimmer
1 month ago

comment image&ct=g

1 month ago

So if they are so particular and careful when it comes to athletes eating in public because due to fear of contamination, why did they use a kitchen that was considered “atrocious”?

Beginner Swimmer at 25
1 month ago

#FreeSunYang He could clean the field in the 1500 in Paris

Reply to  Beginner Swimmer at 25
1 month ago

Bro has not been relevant in the 1500 since like 2015

Reply to  Beginner Swimmer at 25
1 month ago

I heard his boxing career is getting in the way of his swimming career

1 month ago

How embarrassing for these shills

Kristiina Allekõrs
1 month ago

I am very angry. This man must disqualified lifetime.

About Anya Pelshaw

Anya Pelshaw

Anya has been with SwimSwam since June 2021 as both a writer and social media coordinator. She was in attendance at the 2022 and 2023 Women's NCAA Championships writing and doing social media for SwimSwam. Currently, Anya is pursuing her B.A. in Economics and a minor in Government & Law at …

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