South African breaststroker Cameron van der Burgh lashed out at Australian media on Sunday, as the Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that the new World Record holder in the 100 breaststroke has admitted to his illegal kick. At the same time, van der Burgh pointed out that Australian Brenton Rickard can be seen in the next lane doing the same thing.
Controversy erupted after the South African won the gold medal in the 100 breaststroke, and set a new World Record, and underwater footage showed clearly that he did three dolphin kicks after diving in at the start of the race.
‘‘It’s got to the sort of point where if you’re not doing it you’re falling behind or your giving yourself a disadvantage so everyone’s pushing the rules and pushing the boundaries, so if you’re not doing it, you’re not trying hard enough,” he told the SMH. ‘‘I think only if you can bring in underwater footage that’s when everybody will stop doing it because that’s when you’ll have peace of mind to say, ‘All right I don’t need to do it because everybody else is doing it and it’s a fair playing field.”
When asked by the Aussie paper that is no stranger to controversy and swimming, the champion responded “‘‘Everybody’s doing it … not everybody, but 99 per cent.’’
‘‘So I mean to me it would make sense that referees have the chance to look at underwater footage and say there is something wrong there,” van der Burgh continued. “If that rule was put in place, everyone would be much more straight down the line and that’s ultimately what we want for the sport is to have a sport with integrity where it is very hard to cheat and people I guess need to avoid cheating because sooner or later they will get caught and cost themselves dearly.’’
A vast majority of the sports at the Olympics now allow for some form of video technology for situations such as these; from field hockey to greco-roman wrestling, sports around the world have figured out a way to incorporate video technology into their judging system. Most of those sports have much more delicate concerns about the flow-of-competition than does swimming, where long breaks in competition are a designed part of the meets.
Van der Burgh accurately emphasized ‘‘if you’re not doing it, you’re falling behind. It’s not obviously – shall we say – the moral thing to do, but I’m not willing to sacrifice my personal performance and four years of hard work for someone that is willing to do it and get away with it.”
FINA has experimented with underwater judging in the past at their World Cup series to largely positive reviews. This could be one of the biggest changes we see before the Rio de Janeio Olympics.
Rickard, interviewed before van der Burgh, made similar comments about the need for video judging of some sort.