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Olympic Swmmer Admits Using ‘Illegal’ Kick in Gold-Medal Performance

Olympic Gold Medalist Admits Cheating
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Boy, the flow of cheating and scandal from the 2012 London games just keeps coming.

First, 8 badminton players from China, Indonesia and Korea were expelled from the games after it was apparent they were throwing matches on purpose to get a better draw in the competition.

Then an Algerian distance runner was kicked out for “not trying” in his 800 meter semi-final race. The runner did not want to run the 800 to focus on the 1,500 meters. When Algeria missed the deadline to withdraw him,  he ran only a portion of the race, then walked off the track.

Now comes the admission by gold medal swimmer Cameron Van der Burgh admitted to using more than one allotted “dolphin kick” in his world-record performance in the mens 100 meter breaststroke. American Bendan Hansen took the bronze. Van der Burgh said it was not the “moral” thing to do, he was not going to avoid doing it and lose four years of work to someone who would. The dolphin kick is a whip-like motion of the hips that competitors in this event are allowed to do once at the start, and once after each turn. Van der Burgh clearly appeared to be using as many as three.

But without the benefit of underwater judging, there was no way to review the tape and determine if it was done. This is not the first time this issue has surfaced, so to speak. Earlier in the Olympics, another swimmer appeared to take too many kicks, and in the 2011 World Championships, the winner of the 50 meter race appeared to use too many.

Van der Burgh said in 2010 at a meet in Sweden special underwater judging cameras were used to monitor the kicks and he loved it. He said because of that system, nobody tried to get away with anything and it was a clean competition. Pressure had been put on the IOC (International Olympic Committee) to use such judging, but FINA, the governing body of international swimming, does not have underwater video review as part of its system. Currently they use poolside judges who cannot always confirm what’s going on under the waves.

Critics say with the world champion and Olympic gold winner admitting cheating, video review will probably make its way into the FINA rules sometime in the future.

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