Katinka Hosszu Sues Casey Barrett, Swimming World For Libel After Doping Allegations

Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu has filed a libel lawsuit against writer Casey Barrett and the parent company of Swimming World Magazine for an editorial published on Swimming World‘s website alleging that Hosszu should be suspected of doping.

The editorial, titled “Are Katinka Hosszu’s Performances Being Aided?” was published last May as an opinion piece by Barrett, a former Olympic swimmer for Canada who has been writing for a documentary about East German doping at the 1976 Olympics.

Despite noting there was no proof and that Hosszu had never failed a doping test, the story pointed to Hosszu’s legendary endurance and her ability to swim multiple events back-to-back as evidence that should at least start a conversation about Hosszu allegedly using outside means to improve her performances in the pool.

Hosszu responded very quickly after the piece was published, denying the use of any illegal methods in her swimming career and mulling legal action against Barrett and Swimming World.

Last week, Hosszu officially filed a suit against both Barrett and Sports Publications International Incorporated, which produces Swimming World Magazine and its companion website.

Hosszu will sue for Personal Injury: Assault Libel & Slander after filing with the Phoenix Division Office of the Arizona District Court. (Sports Publications International is based out of Phoenix, Arizona). Bridget Bade is listed as the presiding judge in the case.

The full civil complaint can be viewed here.

Hosszu’s lawyers, reached for comment, said it was their policy not to discuss the legal aspects of the case in the press and only recounted the events that caused the suit to be filed.

“When Swimming World did not retract the piece, and after we learned that the publication knew the allegations were untrue, we felt we had no choice but to pursue legal action,” said attorney Todd Roberts.

Barrett said he had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on it at this time.

SwimSwam has reached out to Swimming World for comment with no response. SwimSwam will update if a response is given.

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7 years ago

I read the Casey Barrett piece, and I can see why the defamation suit was dismissed, and rightly so. I can also see why Hosszu decided to sue: while Barrett was careful to state he had no proof, his accusations were damaging to her reputation.

I hope she can somehow show that she follows a novel training regimen which, IF FOLLOWED BY OTHERS WILL HELP THEM MAKE HUGE PROGRESS. I think it is her only effective defense as she can’t prove a negative (about doping).

That said, it is evident that they are a number of yellow flags (husband/wife training, muscle definition, very high event load per meet, margin of victory, relatively late massive improvement). The question is whether Barrett… Read more »

7 years ago

She smashed record like that?! After the competition, she said I do not know how to embrace all this. She looks wild, obvious on something, just can not be tested.

Joe Shmoe
8 years ago

“In Smith’s case, the controversy centers on this point: Can a woman who is 26 years old and not ranked among the world’s top 40 in the 400 individual medley, or the world’s top 50 in the 400 freestyle, come out of nowhere to win two Olympic gold medals on the basis of hard work and determination? Or is such dramatic improvement not possible without the aid of banned performance-enhancing drugs?”

This was published in non other than the New York Times, DURING the Olympic Games in 1996. http://www.nytimes.com/1996/07/23/sports/atlanta-day-4-swimming-a-pool-medley-controversy-and-close-calls.html?pagewanted=all

Smith passed all of her drug tests at the Games. But in the midst of it all, people commented on how drastically her physique changed… Read more »

Reply to  Joe Shmoe
8 years ago

Though quite long by usual SwimSwam posting standards, this was a great reply (my opinion – please don’t sue me).

8 years ago

“When Swimming World did not retract the piece, and after we learned that the publication knew the allegations were untrue,..”

Mr. Roberts: even for plaintiff’s counsel this is such a remarkably vague (“…the allegations”) and self serving comment that an explanation is needed, rather than simply waiting for something to leak out during the litigation.

This statement appears to defame Swimming World, without demonstration of what they “knew” and when and how they knew it.

Joe Knows
Reply to  Dunc1952
8 years ago

Plaintiff’s entire Complaint is filled with such hyperbole. She’s not a cheater because she says she’s not. Great argument.

Bill V.
8 years ago

I had huge problems with Barrett’s opinion piece. It was an egregious error in judgement, and tarnished the good work of Swimming World, especially the pioneering journalism of my former colleague Phil Whitten. The thing is, Phil would’ve actually done research first, and that’s not at all what Barrett did. He was irresponsible. If a piece like that ever came across my desk when I was an editor, I would’ve told the writer to go take a walk.

Best of luck to Katinka Hosszu. Regardless of the outcome of this case, I hope she gains enough closure to enjoy well-earned success in 2016.

Joe shmoe
Reply to  Bill V.
8 years ago


“In January 1997, Swimming World outlined the case against Smith in an article entitled, “Why Is Everyone Saying All Those Nasty Things About a Nice Irish Girl Like Michelle Smith?” The article explained why knowledgeable swimming observers almost unanimously believe Smith to have used illegal, performance-enhancing substances, a belief given further credence by De Bruin’s comments that he did not feel using drugs was unfair. In a later issue, Smith’s chief defender, Chalkie White, an Irish journalist, penned a reply.”

The article referenced in the above quote was written by Phil Whitten. I can’t seem to track it down right now. But according to other reports at the time of his 1997 article,… Read more »

Reply to  Bill V.
8 years ago

SW can’t afford to fight this, either way she wins.

8 years ago

She had to prove that the libel has unfairly and unlawfully prevent her from earning a living and that is cettainly not three case as she won the most prize money in the fina wcup. Personally i think it is a bad idea for her and a total waste of money.

8 years ago

Sue a person because of their opinion. Incredible…

Reply to  Jim
8 years ago

You do understand the difference between opinion and fact, I would hope. People are not entitled to their own facts. Although I have no facts to support it, I truly believe you are a psychopathic serial killer, and will openly publish this, and tell all your employers, family, etc. I guess that would be OK with you?

8 years ago

Do we know how much she is suing for???

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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