As a follow-up to the report that elite Australian swimmers were voicing concerns about training alongside Chinese athletes at their home pools, the Swimming Australia organization has reportedly issued an ordinance to its members regarding publicly speaking out on the topic.
Earlier this week, we reported how some high-profile Australian swimmers have complained about sharing their training facilities with a number of Chinese athletes who have moved their training bases to Australia. News down under indicated that there is “a growing chorus of Australian swimmers who are fed up with having to train alongside their Chinese rivals, some of whom have been suspended or suspected of doping.”
Thomas Fraser-Holmes and Olympic icon Grant Hackett were just two Australian swimmers who were questioning the strictness of the doping program monitoring the Chinese athletes training in their home nation. Hackett said, “I just want everyone to be tested equally. I get tested a lot.”
The subsequent wrist-slapping by Swimming Australia aimed at muffling such comments came via an official order, which The Daily Telegraph conveyed as the following:
“Speak only about yourself; about your own performances and your own journey and not about any other issues surrounding the sport. Respect your rivals. Avoid speaking negatively about your opposition; whether domestically or internationally. Be mindful of issues that can have far-reaching effects. Avoid commenting on any issue that may reflect poorly on yourself, your coach, your program, Swimming Australia and its sponsors or future sponsors and partners.”
Although there’s no official word on current Olympic hopefuls’ response to the decree, retired four-time Olympic gold medalist Libby Trickett sounded off that limiting what athletes can and can’t say is not in the best interest of the sport.
“It’s important to say that as a country we don’t stand for this and that every athlete should be subjected to the same amount of testing that we are,” Trickett said.
“I understand that our sport has been trying to recover its reputation as a wholesome and clean sport [since London 2012]. I can understand why they are trying to throw water on the fire — but this is an important issue and the reality is each athlete is an individual who has their own perspective and views on things.”
“As current athletes we have every right to expect that foreign athletes are treated as we are,” Trickett said. “I think that is imperative to the sport going forward — it is reasonable to expect equality when it comes to the number of drug tests they undergo.”