Canadian Ryan Cochrane will look to stand on the podium for the third Olympics in row after winning the bronze in the 1500 freestyle at the 2008 Games and then the silver at the Games in 2012. Cochrane’s challenge this time around may be a little tougher as he is entering Rio with a 2015 season’s best of 14:51.08 compared to his 2011 best of 14:44.46.
He will have to contend with swimmers who have made significant improvements since 2012, which includes world champion Gregorio Paltrinieri of Italy, Australian youngster Mack Horton and American Connor Jaeger. He will also once again face long time foe 2012 Olympic gold medalist and world record holder Sun Yang of China.
Despite his competition Cochrane in confident in his abilities against any athlete clean or not, “As an athlete you do everything you can to stay clean and race against the best in the world,” Cochrane told Yahoo Sports. “The upside for me is that even if my competitors are doping, or even if they’re not, I feel competitive still, I feel like I have a chance of beating them. That’s a really good place to be mentally.”
At the last two Olympics Cochrane was joined on the podium by athletes who have suffered penalties for doping violations, which include 2008 Olympic gold medalist Ous Mellouli and Sun.
With the controversy surrounding the punishment or lack thereof handed out to the Russian team Cochrane feels that it would have been unfair to put all of the country’s athletes in the same boat and not allow them to compete, “A lot of my competitors have had doping violations – quite a few of them. It’s frustrating,” he said. “I really don’t know what the right answer is. I don’t think it’s fair to that an entire country can’t go, because there are clean athletes in Russia. I can’t imagine being a clean athlete who does everything possible to stay on the right, and not being able to go to the Olympics because of other people’s faults. But that said, the narrative of doping in the last year or two has been … frustrating.”
Another thing that Cochrane is confident in is the measures that Swimming Canada and the Canadian Olympic Association have taken to ensure that athletes from his home nation are clean, ”
“I’ve been tested twice a day, four times in a week,” Cochrane said Monday, on the deck of the Pan Am Sports Centre. “It’s constant in Canada. We do our due diligence to make sure our athletes are clean.
“I don’t think that’s the case in every country. As an athlete you just wish it was even across the board – that every country was doing what they could to instil that kind of attitude among their athletes – but it’s not.”