While the rumors continue to swirl about China’s planning to build a swimming super center of sorts in Australia with Aussie Denis Cotterell at the helm, the storied and sometimes controversial coach continues to work with superstar Sun Yang.
Cotterell, who has guided such stellar athletes in the past as Grant Hackett and Michael Klim, most recently finished up his stint at Miami Swimming Club, which included an elite squad touting such names as Tommy Fraser-Holmes, Dan Smith and Swedish star Michelle Coleman. The group operated under Australia’s High Performance Centre program. However, the Olympic-caliber squad has now dissolved, with remaining members TFH moving to Bond Swimming Club and Smith now training at St. Peters Western.
The national coach has a long history of having worked with Chinese swimmers throughout his career. Not only has he hosted several different Chinese training groups throughout his time at Miami, Cotterell had a major hand in the success of Sun Yang at the 2012 Olympic Games, having originally formed a relationship with the multiple medalist back in 2008.
At the last Olympics in Rio, Sun was at the center of Aussie rival Mack Horton‘s ‘I don’t have time for drug cheats’ statement made at the Games. The two battled one another in the 400m freestyle, where Horton ultimately won gold, but not after he called Sun Yang out for his 3-month suspension back in 2014 for having tested positively for a banned substance.
However, 6 months removed from the Games, Cotterell warns Australians about being too critical of foreign athletes involved in doping situations when their own athletes aren’t immune to the same types of situations. Specifically, in an article for The Daily Telegraph, Cotterell cites Aussie Samantha Riley’s positive test back in 1995 and, most recently, Kylie Palmer‘s positive result in 2013 as falling under the same umbrella as Sun Yang, yet the public’s reaction was different.
“I was there when Sam got busted. Did we call her a cheat for the rest of her life? It’s nice when you’re in glass houses,” Cotterell says of the cloud that continues to cover Sun’s head ongoing.
“There is a distinction between positives and suspension types and if there isn’t, well, Kylie Palmer is a cheat and it’s lucky she didn’t come back. I’m not saying it but by that same dialogue, by that same rationale, Sam Riley is a cheat too. But we didn’t say that did we?”, Cotterell continued in the piece.
Regarding Horton’s comments specific to the Cotterell-trained Sun, the coach commented, “We go, ‘Oh yeah, great Mack. That’s a great statement’. And we say, ‘Oh yeah, we want a clean sport, we want this and that’. We say, ‘Oh doping isn’t systemic (in Australia), it’s not planned’.
“If you want to play that way, I mean, I’m not going to say it, but does race have something to do with it? I don’t know.”
In December of last year, Cotterell called recent reports claiming a formal contract has been signed between himself and Chinese swimming to the tune of $1 million as ‘rubbish.’