FINA Doping Rules Might Delay Trickett's Return Until After World Championships

Libby Trickett’s announcement yesterday that she would be returning from a brief, 7 month retirement, was a huge lift for the Australian swimming community that was very disappointed by Australia’s results at the Pan-Pac games.

At only 25, Trickett should have no problem getting back into the swing and being an immediate boon to Australia, especially in the relays, where they were swept by the USA women in Irvine. Tom at the SpeedEndurance blog did a great breakdown of what the potential relays matchup is for Worlds in 2011, and with Trickett in the mix, this could be one of the most exciting races at the meet.

Aussie potential team:-

Emily Seebohm – Backstroke
Leisel Jones – Breaststroke
Jessicah Schipper/Libby Trickett/Steph Rice – Butterfly
Libby Trickett/Yolane Kukla – Freestyle

USA potential team:-

Natalie Coughlin/Elisabeth Pelton/Missy Franklin – Backstroke
Rebecca Soni/Jess Hardy – Breaststroke
Christine Magnuson/Dana Vollmer – Butterfly
Natalie Coughlin/Dana Vollmer/Jess Hardy/Amada Weir – Freestyle

China potential team:-

Zhao Jing/Gao Chang – Backstroke
Chen Huijia/Ye Sun – Breaststroke
Liu Zige/Jiao Liuyang – Butterfly
Pang Jiaying/Tang Yi – Freestyle

But this dream scenario might be put on hold until London in 2012. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a discrepancy between Swimming Australia and FINA anti-doping rules could cause Trickett to miss the Australian National Championships in April, which double as their World Championship Trials.

Swimming Australia only requires a 6-month “cooling-off” period for world-class athletes coming out of retirement. This is caused by the fact that during their retirement, the athletes are not subject to the rigorous drug-testing regulations. These rules are in place to prevent an athlete from claiming retirement, loading up on steroids test-free, and then coming back after the steroids are out of their system and immediately jumping back into competition.

This 6-month period would allow Trickett to begin competing again in March. The discrepancy comes with the FINA rule, which requires a 9-month wait for all swimmers that it considers “international-class athletes,” which still includes Trickett. Immediate reactions seem to indicate that the FINA rule will trump the Swimming Australia rule, even though the Australian National Championships are directly under the sanction of SA. SA has written a letter to the governing body, however, hoping to sway their opinion on the matter, because the 9-month FINA ban would expire before the 2011 World Championships, which is sanctioned directly under the governance of FINA.

This is a bit of a tricky situation for world-class Olympic athletes. One of the best parts of official retirement from the sport is no longer being subjected to random drug testing that can interrupt dates, naps, or even golf games. But when a swimmer is ready to retire, mentally they are usually so worn out that they think there’s no way they’ll ever take it back up again. But often, after a few-month respite, they get the itch and decide to return. Some athletes, such as the ageless one Dara Torres, choose to stay in the drug testing pool eeven when not competing, just in case they change their mind. Needless to say, for most people it would be a tough decision to subject yourself to that when you were certain that you were finished.

Good thing for Brett Favre the NFL doesn’t apply the same rules.

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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