Ye Shiwen, 16 years old, Chinese swimmer, won a Gold medal in 400 meters individual medley with a world record, and immediately some people have questioned her, hinting she took drugs. Would they say the same if she were from US, or British, or German?
|picture by Sum_of_Marc|
John Leonard, the executive director of the World Swimming Coaches Association, compared Ye with Michelle Smith, who won gold in the same event at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics but was banned in 1998 due doping. Leonard said that Ye’s record is “impossible”. No difficult or improbable, no, impossible. So, he isn’t saying that he has doubts, he is sure, Leonard says that Ye Shiwen took drugs, and proofs are that he says it.
Stephanie Rice, Australian swimmer, said that Ye’s record was “insanely fast”. curiously, Ye Shiwen has been compared to Stephanie Rice due their amazing improvements in their records. Rice won gold medal in 2008 Beijing Olympics with 4:29:45, improving her record since 2007 in more than 6 seconds. Ye has done 4:28:43, improving her best record since 2010 in 5 seconds, and that is suspicious, although it wasn’t in the case of Stephanie Rice. Because Rice is Australian and a white woman? Is it surprising that a 16 years old girl improves her record since she was 14 years old? Well, I’m not an expert coach, but I think that a 14 years old girl would improve her record in next two years even not training, just because teens grow. There is something called hormones, which perhaps Leonard doesn’t know.
Some data about the history of times in 400 m individual medley: Ye’s improvement over Stephanie Rice’s 2008 gold medal time in Beijing was 1,3 seconds. That is very suspicious. But Rice’s improvement over Yana Klochkova’s 2004 gold medal in Athens was 5,3 seconds. That is an exploit.
Neither it was suspicious when Mark Spitz won 7 gold medals in Munich 1972, getting world record in each one of them. Neither when Michael Phelps won 8 gold medals in Beijing 2008. Rice is Australian, and Spitz and Phelps are from USA.
More exploits: in London 2012, Lithuanian swimmer Rūta Meilutytėhas has won gold medal in women’s 100 meter breaststroke, and she is just 15 years old, but she will not have troubles, because she is a blonde with blue eyes. So, she isn’t suspicious for people like John Leonard.
I can’t help thinking that behind these suspicions and insinuations (or direct accusations, like Leonard did) we can find the arrogance that western world uses to show over the rest of the world. Mainly China is seen with suspicion and distrust, because it’s a country rising, threatening the first position of USA and western world.
Answering to my own question, I’m sure that nobody would have told something like that if this record would have got by an USA swimmer, and John Leonard would be praising the wonderful record of a fellow countrywoman. If a westerner athlete gets a great record, it’s an exploit; if a Chinese athlete gets a great record, it’s suspicious. That is the way of thinking for Leonard and others like him. And it’s a nasty way of thinking. It’s racism.
The worst thing is that they have got their target already. Ye Shiwen will be always under suspicion. Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps will be always remembered by their medals. Ye Shiwen will be remembered by her record and probably more gold medals that she’ll win, but… with a shadow of doubt over her.