Opinion: On Ye Shiwen and Doping

  183 Davis Wuolle | July 29th, 2012 | News

When I was sixteen years old, I swam my first long-course 50m breaststroke at prelims of junior nationals. It was also my first junior nationals race. I was entered in the first of many heats with no time; I had qualified for the meet with a time trial in the 100 breast. I tied another 16 year old for second and narrowly missed my senior national cut. He had swam at Pan Pacs the previous summer.

I remember vividly seeing my time, getting out of the pool and walking over to my coach, who was ecstatic. As I approached him, I overheard a passing parent say to her son: “That kid HAS to be on drugs.” My coach looked at my skinny 6’6, 165 lb frame and burst out laughing.

As funny as it seemed at the time, it really stuck with me. I realized I was getting into a sport where the unexpected is rarely expected. There aren’t a lot of major upsets in swimming. In fact, only a few have ever won a gold medal from lane eight of an Olympic final.

As soon as Ye Shiwen touched the wall, I knew that a firestorm was about to begin. Does China have a history of performance enhancing drug use among its Olympic athletes? Yes. Does the USA have a history of performance enhancing drug use among its Olympic athletes? Yes. Does China have the finances and technology to develop cutting edge performance enhancing drugs for its athletes? Yes. Does the USA? Yes. We can speculate to no end about the existence or nonexistence of these drugs, their benefits and who is using them, but it helps nobody. I don’t believe that Ye Shiwen or any other athlete should be pigeonholed because of their national representation.

People want an answer to how Ye Shiwen swam such a fast closing hundred in the 400 IM and how China has suddenly produced such success. How about her training? How about the money poured into sport in China over the last 15 years? How about the billions China has to select from, as opposed to the mere millions other countries have? It is easy to point to drugs as the answer and to force someone onto the defensive against their actions.

Until somebody unearths some evidence of illegal drug use, Ye Shiwen is just another 16 year old with a poor race strategy. And until there is some evidence of wrongdoing, I don’t believe 16 year old Ye Shiwen should have to answer to accusations that her hard work, training and dedication were the result of cheating.

Swimming has always been a sport of purity. The circumstances are as physically close to equal as possible. As such, performance enhancing drug use in swimming has always been a touchy subject. Wrongdoings in the sport have had a severely negative impact on the institutions in which we have placed our tremendous trust. But without trust, our sport cannot exist. Without the respect for our fellow athletes, the officials that govern, the coaches that educate and the fans that support, the sport of swimming cannot function. Without trust and respect, sport is not sport. We should be able to believe that the human beings that work so hard and sacrifice so much to achieve glory at the Olympics can still do amazing things. So until there is reason to believe otherwise, believe your eyes. Believe that the sport of swimming can still amaze, expect the unexpected and let Ye Shiwen enjoy her moment.

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183 Comments on "Opinion: On Ye Shiwen and Doping"

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Let's get real

I agree with zyng43 about Beisel, she has made steady improvements over time, (since 2006), which is different from Ye’s 7 second shed in one year.

that pissed me off… she doesnt deserve that kind of crap accusation


That’s funny! Beisel can shave 18 seconds off her best(between 2006 and 2008), while Ye, at the same age as Beisel(between 14-16 years old), only shave 7 seconds.


And Ye does? Where’s your anger for her? Ye shed only 5.5 seconds in 2 years – 4:33 in 2010.

Let's get real
LANDLUBBER read – News.discovery. com, “Olympic doping scandal over Chinese grows” from 1 day ago. It states that Ye shaved 7 SECONDS off her time since last year’s worlds in April. Sorry that I DID NOT STATE APRIL OF LAST YEAR, I thought people would already know that. Why would I LIE. Isn’t it easy to call someone a liar, when you, yourself, has the actual facts wrong. Why is everything an argument with men? And I was joking about the CHINESE MENS GYMNASTICS! GEES TOUGH CROWD, honestly, if I swam for the CHINESE, I would use performance enhancers, because I’d be afraid to return to China without a medal, for fear of banishment. AGAIN I AM ONLY JOKING BUT… Read more »
Sorry for you. You were wrong AGAIN! This time you DID STATE APRIL OF LAST YEAR, but acturally that happened in JULY LAST YEAR. If you search “2011 World Aquatics Championships” on WIKI, you can easily find that. WHAT A PITY! If you dig further on WIKI, you can also find that YE won 2010 Asina Game by 4:33.79(November, 2010), Which many reports choose to ignore when they accuse Ye for doping. And those reports also failed to mention that Ye only had several international games in 2010 and 2011, 4:35.78 was not her PB. And What about Elizabeth Beisel? She Shaved 12 SECONDS between her age 15 and 16, just as the same age as YE While she had… Read more »
Let's get real

“Olympic doping scandal over CHINESE grows” read this article from 8 hours ago about what sports scientists say about Ye and doping, Vendor get back to me after you read the facts.


About Davis Wuolle

Davis Wuolle

Davis Wuolle helped found and launch SwimSwam at its inception in 2012. Davis designed and developed SwimSwam.com, utilizing over nine years of web development and design experience. Davis graduated in 2013 from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada where he specialized in Materials Engineering with a focus on Product …

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