In what could be known as “black September,” 2003 saw a radical shift in doping suspensions for swimmers. Within a week, Claudia Poll and Aleksandra Herasimenia both had four-year doping suspensions reduced to two years, including Herasimenia on September 26th.
This decision came after WADA and the IOC pressured swimming’s international governing body on the matter. Now, 10 years later, there is huge pressure from these same bodies, as well as much of the fan base and the athletes themselves, to extend suspensions back to four years, or even longer.
The sport goes in cycles, SPORT goes in cycles. Herasimenia and Poll both maintained their innocence throughout; Herasimenia, at the time only 17, continued to sort of knock along in 50-meter races, until the 2011 World Championships where she suddenly exploded in the big-time races. She first won the 100 free at the 2011 World Championships, and then took double silvers in the 50 and 100 free at the 2012 London Olympics. Her doping suspension was so long ago, that there’s a whole generation of swim fans who don’t remember it.
Perhaps that’s for the best and the way things should be. Intentional or not, though, her case and subsequent reduction coincided with a landmark era of doping in swimming.
- Texas freshman Jack Conger, a National High School and National Age Group Record, turns 19 today.
- Texas post-grad Jimmy Feigen, a 2012 Olympian and the 2013 silver medalist at the World Championships in the 100 free, turns 24 today.
- 5-time Olympic gold medalist, 10-time Olympic medalist, former World Record holder, Popov antagonist, and SwimSwam contributor Gary Hall, Jr. turns 39 today.
- 2012 Paralympic gold medalist and multi-time World Record breaker Victoria Arlen turns 19 today.
- 1964 Olympic champion in the 400 IM Dick Roth from the United States turns 66 today.
- 1988 Olympic gold medalist in the 400 medley relay Jay Mortenson turns 47 today. He was the 100 fly and 100 back NCAA Champion in 1988.
- Former USC All-American, and 2012 Olympic gold medalist as part of France’s 400 free relay, Clement Lefert turns 26 today.
- Delta State sophomore Danielle Dugas turns 19 today.
- Lenore Kight-Wingard, who won medals in the 400 free at both the 1932 and 1936 Olympics, would have been 102 today. She died in 2000.