Swimming: Fina to continue De Bruin probe

Drugs in sport
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The Independent Online
FINA, swimming's world governing body, is to press ahead with investigations into Ireland's triple Olympic champion, Michelle de Bruin, despite her strong denials that she tampered with a sample.

Fina and the De Bruin camp are awaiting results of the B sample, the second one given by the former Michelle Smith in January. She is accused of having taken advantage of a banned procedure, of using a banned substance, and actions which affected the integrity and validity of the urine sample.

The International Olympic Committee has also entered the row, saying a urine sample submitted by De Bruin contained deadly levels of alcohol with "a very strong whisky odour".

The IOC medical commission chairman, Prince Alexandre de Merode, confirmed yesterday that unnaturally high levels of alcohol had been found in the sample.

"The alcohol level was so high that you could not survive with that concentration," he said, adding that it was possible that either it "is not her urine or that it's manipulated urine" and that alcohol could be used to mask the presence of other drugs in a sample. He said two drug testers, a man and a woman, were present for De Bruin's doping control.

Meanwhile a senior European athletics coach gave his support to De Bruin and accused the sport of sour grapes.

David McCreanney, who coaches in Belgium, saw De Bruin train for four months before the Atlanta Games. He said: "Michelle ate, worked and slept training under the guidance of her husband Erik. She would swim all morning, sleep in the afternoon and train again in the evening. She got there through a lot of hard work and structured training."

Meanwhile, it was claimed yesterday that around 70 percent of top-class sportsmen are cheating with drugs. Matthew Yates, a former European 1,500m indoor champion, and Britain's former 400m runner Derek Redmond, said they believed most athletes who appeared in a final at the top level were taking banned substances.

Yates made his claim in a debate about drugs in sport on BBC radio and Redmond added: "I have heard the 70 per cent figure and I wouldn't be surprised. It is going on in the world of athletics."