Is Australia Becoming A Drug Cheat Haven?

Australia is at risk of being seen as a “safe haven for drug cheats” reports Fox Sports Australia after recounting the recent key World Championships medalists who have both been trained by Australian coaches and have also been involved in doping ordeals.

Australia currently allows Sun Yang and Ning Zetao to train within its borders, both of whom have tested positively for banned substances and had been given suspensions in the past. Yang earned gold in Kazan in the 400m and 800m freestyles, while snagging silver in the 200m freestyle.  For his part, Zetao stunned a stacked field, including Australia’s Cameron McEvoy and America’s Nathan Adrian, to swim away with the gold medal in the 100m freestyle event.

Not only are the doping-incident-shrouded swimmers training in Australia, says Fox Sports Australia, but coaches are monetarily benefiting from it – and in a big way.  Government-funded swim coaches are said to be “double-dipping” by coaching both local, Australian swimmers, as well as their rival foreign competitors for financial gains.

For instance, sources have said that Australian coaching legend Denis Cotterell earned an estimated $250,000 from China for each gold medal earned at the 2012 London Olympic Games.  The Sunday Telegraph estimates Cotterell made between $750,000 and a million dollars for helping Yang win two golds at those Games. But, Cotterell has also continued to be paid $100,000+ by Swimming Australia.

Sun Yang no longer trains under Cotterell, but still trains in Australia. After news of his doping incident reached the organization, Swimming Australia publicly announced that Sun was no longer welcome at their official training centers and ordered Cotterell to sever ties with Sun.

Zetao trains under Matt Brown after having tested positive for steroids in 2011, but Brown defends his coaching decisions.  Brown labels the criticism and suspicions around Chinese swimmers training in Australia as “Chinese bashing”.  Says Brown, “If you coach a long enough for a period of time there are bonuses [from China], I don’t want to go too much more into that, but that’s not why you do it though.”

Brown stands to earn a six-figure dollar amount in Rio under China’s Olympic reward system, of which the coach of almost 30 years says, “You have to be stupid to say, if it was offered, that you’d turn it down.  At the end of the day we are professional coaches. Personally, I have had to change states to go to a new job to  survive in Australia coaching, my family are still up in Brisbane, people have to do what they have to do.”

Legendary coach Bill Sweetenham voices his opinion on the subject very frankly, saying “If they [swimmers] have been found to be cheating they should not be welcome in any swimming program in Australia. Whether they tested positive in 1972, 1980, 2011 — as soon as you compromise; where do you stop?”  Sweetenham went on to state that, “I don’t want Australia to be seen as a haven for drug cheats, however it may be too late.”

Brian Sutton, former Australian Olympic team coach for the men, echoed Sweetenham’s views saying “Dopers should get life. This is an issue Swimming Australia should take on — they should have no tolerance for doping — they shouldn’t be allowed to be coached by Australian coaches in Australia.”  Sutton firmly stated his belief that “anyone coaching foreign swimmers should not be eligible for any funding.”

Unless an overhaul of the existing rules regarding Australian coaching of foreign athletes takes place, it doesn’t seem as though this trend will cease anytime in the near future.


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Glass Houses...
6 years ago

How is this different than Yulia Efimova training at Trojan while she served her doping ban?

6 years ago

I,m tired of the self righteousness of some of these folks that say dopers should get life bans as if every doping case is the same. If some of these australians talking about life bans are serious about the “life bans” then they should start with advocating a life ban for kylie palmer and even any athlete that has been caught smoking marijuana in the past. Who knows if marijuana is performance enhancing or just makes you “high”.

And coaches have to make a living so they can coach who they want to coach.

Reply to  carlo
6 years ago

I disagree. Implicit in the call for leniency is the assumption that an athlete tested positive just the one time he took performance enhancing drugs. Really? Does anybody really believe that? More likely, he has been cheating before and was just caught this time. Furthermore, there is evidence that some drugs’ benefits continue for years. As to marijuana, come on!

Gina Rhinestone
Reply to  Crawler
6 years ago

Callum Timms ( a former 1.58 200 flier) was suspended for 2 years for cocaine . But I notice he is swimming again. Should he be banned forever for doing something everyone outside swimming does ?

When Geoff Huegill got busted at the races on a Sat afternoon , he stated he wanted a lawyer . I thought – yeah you’d be lucky because 70% of the lawyers in that neck of the woods( Eastern beaches Sydney) would also be snorting cocaine or other upmarket compound .

We have to accept illicit drug use is epidemic & go from there .

A swimmer
Reply to  Gina Rhinestone
6 years ago

Not trying to get involved in this discussion, but saying that cocaine is something “everybody outside of swimming does” is not even close to a true statement.

Gina Rhinestone
Reply to  A swimmer
6 years ago

‘Pot had helped , booze and maybe a little blow when I could afford it ‘ .

Reply to  carlo
6 years ago

You think pot is a PED? You are kidding, right? The only thing it enhances is a craving for junk food!

Paul James
Reply to  carlo
6 years ago

MIchael Phelps wouldn’t still be swimming then

6 years ago

Wondering what Swimming USA think about Coach Salo’s “pro” squad at USC – he’s got a few convicted drug cheats in the ranks?

Gina Rhinestone
6 years ago

Yeah but we just banned Chris Brown for bashing Rhianna . Plus Johnny Depp’s toy dogs were sent packing because they were smuggled in .

We are doing some things right .

6 years ago

Until the ban is anything but a specified period , we should go with the way it is.
That said Suns in house ban rather than Wada ban was possibly a tad short.
I get that some want the drug takers out of the sport for good , but until the rules change the bans need to be upheld globally.

6 years ago

Dopers should be banned from the Olympics. Period. Unless you take away the incentive, people will cheat.

Recreational drugs like marijuana shouldn’t even be tested.

6 years ago

Sun Yang
Park Taehwan
Ning Zetao
Ous Mellouli
Vitaliy Melnikov
Yuliya Efimova
Daria Ustinova
Jessica Hardy
Fred Bousquet
Cesar Cielo
Nicolas Santos
Daynara DePaula
… Some of these cases MAY be innocent mishaps. But what these swimmers ALL have in common is they are ALL eligible for the 2016 Olympics. That is not right.

6 years ago

Add Michael Phelps to the list and yes marijuana and cocaine should be tested.
Kylie Palmer too tested forgot her.

Reply to  carlo
6 years ago

All of those in the list have tested positive for a PED. MP has never tested positive for a PED. He got caught smoking pot in a video, but pot is not a PED.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Swim analyst, businesswoman.

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