While we’ve seen virtually every nation publish its 2020 Olympic Games selection criteria well in advance of the qualifying period, the nation of South Africa has only recently revealed its long-awaited policy.
In reviewing the document, there isn’t anything too out of the ordinary in terms of qualification. To be eligible for selection, an athlete must participate at the South African National Swimming Championships slated for April 4th – 9th in Durban.
Of the athletes competing there, only the top 2 finishers in an Olympic individual event who attain a FINA ‘A’ Olympic qualifying time will be considered for selection, pending final approval by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).
Should one or both of the top 2 finishers not achieve an ‘A’ time, then an athlete with the fastest ‘A’ time in either a heat or semi-final of that event will be considered, provided they swim in the final of that event.
Additionally, should there not be 2 athletes with ‘A’ Olympic qualifying times achieved for a specific Olympic event at the end of the aforementioned Championships, then athletes who have achieved an ‘A’ time at any FINA approved meet between March 1, 2019, and June 29, 2020, will be considered for selection.
That caveat potentially holds particular significance when examining the case of now-banned swimmer Roland Schoeman. As reported on February 6th, the 39-year-old had tested positive for banned substance GW501516 in May of 2019, a drug obtained on the black market and considered to be a cancer risk. The World Anti-Doping Agency categorizes GW501516 as a ‘hormone and metabolic modulator’, alerting athletes in 2013 that the substance failed medical trials and was a toxic threat to health if used as a performance enhancer.
Schoeman was handed a one-year ban, which ends on May 17th of this year. Although that’s after the South African Championships in April, it leaves him enough room to shoot for an ‘A’ Olympic qualifying cut before the secondary June 29th deadline, assuming there aren’t already 2 swimmers to have qualified outright from that meet. This ‘loophole’ would also assume he’d be able to still be eligible for selection having been under suspension during April’s national championships.
We’ve reached out to Schoeman to understand his plan for qualification if he indeed is still pursuing competing at the 2020 Olympic Games. At the 2019 Sette Colli Trophy, the Olympic veteran swam 22.7 in the 50 free, 49.9 in the 100 free, and 23.8 in the 50 fly. The FINA ‘A’ Olympic qualification time for his most-likely-to-attain event of the 50m free sits at a stiff 22.01.
In terms of FINA-approved OLY qualification meets, however, there would still be a handful at which he could compete between the May 17th suspension relief date and the June 29th qualification end date, including Mare Nostrum stops in Monaco (June 6th-7th) and Canet (June 13-14th).