Van der Burgh Admits to Breaking Rules; “Everybody’s Doing It”

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.

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ryan proud
8 years ago

Well, firstly its not only cameron!! who does this, theres about 95% breastrokers that do this, and secondly come on mel one dolphin kick can make a WR Or a 27.0 on a split? man 27.0 would be gold in shangai !! dont judge this is like ye doping , whats going on with you

Not So Proud
Reply to  ryan proud
8 years ago

Ryan Proud, did you read a single word on this page? Or did you just click a link and leave a comment?

Reply to  Not So Proud
8 years ago

@NSP Best comment/handle combo on the site.

Reply to  ryan proud
8 years ago

“dont judge this is like ye doping , whats going on with you”

We have clear evidence of Van Der Burgh cheating and no evidence of Ye cheating, yet we should judge Ye and not Van Der Burgh? That is full of good sense!

Reply to  ryan proud
8 years ago

This is a bit beside the point of the article….

So you have a guy who is openly willing to cheat in order to win, stating ‘‘if you’re not doing it, you’re falling behind. It’s not obviously – shall we say – the moral thing to do”, and one straight out of the classic after-school specials, “everybody’s doing it”.

With rationalizations like that, what sense of morality and sportsmanship is stopping him from other forms of cheating, namely doping? More accurately, from his standpoint, why on earth would he not be doping? Based on his statements and actions, you could say he’ll do whatever it takes to win, legal or not.

I think this is a much better case for… Read more »

Ben Skutnik
8 years ago

This is great that he is admitting he did it. This isn’t like other controversies where the athletes play stupid, but he is essentially calling FINA out. It is great to see the athletes keeping the governing bodies in check like this! Well done Cameron!

Philip Johnson
8 years ago

yup! like i said, if FINA refuses to enforce their own rules, everyone will do it!

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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