A 16-year-old swimmer from China who came out of nowhere to beat the U.S. 400-meter champion Elizabeth Beisel has some suspecting whether drugs were involved.
Ye Shiwen trended over the weekend after she not only won the gold in the 400-meter individual medley and beat the world record with a time of 4:28:43, but also out-swam Ryan Lochte in the final 50-meters. Ryan won the gold in that same event and did the final 50 meters in 29.10 seconds while Ye Shiwen did it in 28.93 seconds.
Lochte (who set the second fastest men's time in history), seems to not be worried about the comparison. "We were all talking about that at dinner last night," he said, according to Yahoo! Sports. "It was pretty impressive. And it was a female. She's fast. If she was there with me, I don't know, she might have beat me."
John Leonard, the executive director of the World Swimming Coaches Association, tells The Guardian that at the World Championship last year, Ye Shiwen swam the 400m 7 seconds slower than she did at the Olympics. While Leonard said it was possible with a whole of training, Ye Shiwen speed swimming in the last 100 meters was not:
"We want to be very careful about calling it doping. The one thing I will say is that history in our sport will tell you that every time we see something, and I will put quotation marks around this, 'unbelievable', history shows us that it turns out later on there was doping involved. That last 100m was reminiscent of some old East German swimmers, for people who have been around a while. It was reminiscent of 400m individual medley by a young Irish woman in Atlanta.
I have been around swimming for four-and-a-half decades now. If you have been around swimming you know when something has been done that just isn't right. I have heard commentators saying 'well she is 16, and at that age amazing things happen'. Well yes, but not that amazing. I am sorry."
Leonard's skepticism isn't backed up by other high profile officials. Ame Ljungqvist, medical chief of the IOC, addressed the doping theories today in a press conference (via ITN News):
The New York Times reports China had at least 50 athletes test positive for illegal substances in the 1980s and 1990s. Chinese sporting authorities are said to be extra-vigilant about testing in order to avoid more embarrassment for the country. And while many athletes have been
pre-tested before the games, some think that maybe China came up
with a new performance-enhancing drug that goes undetected during
Ye Shiwen has never won a medal in the 400m in a major international
competition before and many say she was the last swimmer they were
expecting to win the gold in London. Still, can't we just give the girl a break and let her have her moment while it lasts?