Britain’s three-time world swimming champion Adam Peaty has called for weekly doping tests and lifetime bans for convicted drugs cheats in order to alleviate growing concerns within the sport.
It follows allegations in The Times of widespread doping and problems in both the Russian and Chinese swimming teams.
Chinese swimmers Wang Lizhuo and An Jiabao were let off with “warning penalties” rather than suspensions when they failed tests for banned substance clenbuterol.
Systematic doping has also been alleged in Russia to a similar degree as to what was reported by the World Anti-Doping Agency Independent Commission in relation to the Russian athletics squad.
The latter team face missing the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August unless a suspension is lifted by the International Association of Athletics Federations.
A total of 27 Russian swimmers served bans between 2010 and 2015, including four-time world breaststroke champion Yuliya Efimova, who failed for a second time for meldonium this month.
Stronger punishments and testing regimes should be introduced, according to Peaty, winner of the 50 and 100 metres breaststroke titles at last year’s World Championships in Kazan as well as the 4x100m mixed medley relay.
“It should be a life ban,” Peaty told BBC Sport.
“It’s a message to those people out there that it [cheating] shouldn’t happen at all.
“If it happens any more, then people are going to be looking at the TV and saying, ‘He’s a cheat’.
“I’m not a cheater, but if I win Olympic gold and people are looking at me and saying I am a cheat because I’ve won, it’s hugely disrespectful given the hard work I’ve put in.
“I am going to go out there [at Rio 2016] and hopefully be racing 100 per cent clean athletes, not 50 per cent athletes, 50 per cent drugs.
“Hopefully it won’t affect me as I’m going out there to win, but it’s for those people who come fourth and miss out on a medal because someone doped – that’s bad for those who believe in the sport.”
At present, a life ban can only be considered by the International Swimming Federation (FINA) if an athlete records two separate doping failures, as Efimova now has.
Such a ban has proved difficult to introduce in practice, however, with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach admitting last year how lifetime bans are not legally realistic.
Weekly drug tests appear more achievable, but would require greater financial and logistical support.
“I know testing week-on-week is expensive for governing bodies,” added Peaty, who claims to have been tested three times in recent weeks.
“But what is more expensive is people coming out as cheats and then people [spectators] not watching.
“That’s more expensive to the sport.”
The Briton was himself the victim of bungled testing after his 50m breastroke and medley relay world records set at the 2014 European Championships in Berlin were only validated following a British appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport this month, after no testing for banned blood-booster erythropoietin took place.
His views on swimming testing programmes being inconsistent from country to country were repeated by Americans attending the United States Olympic Committee Media Summit in Los Angeles earlier this month.
They called for US standards to be matched in other parts of the world.
- By Nick Butler
- Republish with permission insidethegames.biz