Swimming: Coaches unite over drugs

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The Independent Online
The guardians of world swimming are to be challenged by the world's top coaches just two days before the start of the World Championships in Perth, Australia, next month.

A body called the World Swimming Organisation is to be formed to rival the present world governing body, Fina. This is in direct response to extraordinary times by Chinese women swimmers at the China National Games in October, and a belief by the swimming world that Fina is turning a blind eye to the sport's growing drug problem.

According to John Leonard, the executive director of the World Swimming Coaches Association and the man leading the formation of the WSO, officials and administrators lack respect for the sport. "They have allowed our sport to degenerate into a drug-filled morass that sometimes seems impossible to extricate ourselves from. They have in some cases allowed their self- interest in joining the IOC [International Olympic Committee] or the Fina bureau to compromise their ability to stand up strongly for the sport."

The WSO will implement a plan aimed at providing drug-free competition. It includes athletes and coaches at the highest levels and will try to provide appropriate financial rewards. The WSO plan has 3,000 signatures including over 900 Olympians and their coaches.

Irish triple Olympic champion Michelle De Bruin is out of the World Championships. De Bruin has not recovered from whiplash injuries received in a car crash at the end of October.