Swimming: Blood tests in war on drugs

Click to follow
The Independent Online

With the World Short-course Championships starting in Moscow today, Fina, the sport's world governing body, yesterday announced the introduction of blood tests in the fight against doping in the sport. The decision, which comes into effect in two months' time, will be welcomed by swimmers and coaches who feel they are constantly on the back foot in the fight against drugs.

With the World Short-course Championships starting in Moscow today, Fina, the sport's world governing body, yesterday announced the introduction of blood tests in the fight against doping in the sport. The decision, which comes into effect in two months' time, will be welcomed by swimmers and coaches who feel they are constantly on the back foot in the fight against drugs.

Fina had already decided in February to carry out blood and urine testing for the banned synthetic hormone erythropoietin (EPO) at these champion-ships, a move which was largely expected in response to critic-ism that no such testing would take place at last year's World Championships in Japan, despite similar testing at the world athletics championships in Canada at the same time.

In line with many of the competing nations, Britain is sending a small, élite squad to the Olympic Sports Complex. The team of four sprint specialists can boast 10 world records and eight world championship golds between them.

Mark Foster, 31, won gold in the 50 metres freestyle and 50m butterfly in the last two championships, and holds the world record in the freestyle event. He has waited all year to peak in Moscow, the focal point of his short course season. "I really feel in fantastic shape and I'm expecting to break world records in the 50m freestyle and 50m butterfly while also winning both events," he said. "I've set my sights high and have put a bit of pressure on myself but time's getting short for me."

Zoe Baker will be involved in one of the races of the championships in the 50m breaststroke, where the world record has been held nine times between four swimmers in a game of pass the parcel. When the music last stopped, Sweden's Emma Igelstrom was left holding the prize, at 30.24sec. But, since December last year, Baker has held it three times, The Chinese swimmers Xuejuan Luo and Wei Li have held it twice and once respectively and Igelstrom three times.

"It's going to be very exciting being part of that field and one of the top three girls who could take the world record," said Igelstrom. "I didn't appreciate having the world record until I lost it. It's so precious to me I want it back more than anything."

James Hickman is looking for his fourth successive title in the 200m butterfly. The short course specialist, and former world record holder in the event, is coming off two years that have seen a dip in form and a crash in confidence. Hickman knows that, to defend his Commonwealth Games title in Manchester this summer, he will need a boost here. All three will go directly from Moscow to Manchester for the Commonwealth Games trials, starting a week today.

Scotland's Alison Sheppard is pre-selected for the Games, so swims without a trials on her mind. She will be sharpening up on the 50m freestyle and will line up in Manchester as favourite.

* Sachiko Yamada broke the short-course world record in the women's 800m freestyle at the Japanese short-course championships yesterday, in 8min 14.35sec.

Comments