Perkins: FINA must act to save our sport

Saturday, January 10, 1998 By LOUISE EVANS


Kieren Perkins said the entire Chinese team should be sent home if the drugs discovered in a swimmer's luggage were found to be human growth hormone. The dual Olympic 1,500m champion said it was well within the rules of FINA, the world swimming body, to ban the Chinese team even if that meant future Chinese boycotts at major championships and the Sydney Olympics.

"Enough is enough," Perkins said. "This time they have been caught with their pants down. The arrogance is overwhelming.

"It is also a slap in the face for FINA. The Chinese are implying by bringing this stuff in that they are not a serious body and they can get away with these things.

"Under FINA rules if four athletes are found to be positive in a year, the whole nation is supposed to be banned from a competition.

"If it can be proven beyond reasonable doubt that at least four athletes on the team were earmarked to be given this drug then I think that is within FINA's guidelines to send them all home.

"In my heart I would agree it is not one or two athletes, this is systematic doping and they should all be sent home," Perkins said. "My head does tell me it has to be proven."

Perkins believes that swimming was reaching the point where the public assumed that drugs were part of the sport. "That vast majority of us are clean and are offended by that," he said. "I am offended by that. I am disgusted that people would look at me and my performance and start second guessing whether drugs are involved. That has to be rectified for the sake of the sport." Perkins said he hoped FINA brings down a heavy suspension on the Chinese team to "make an example".

Perkins wants four-year ban for cheats

By COLE HITCHCOCK of AAP 11jan98
KIEREN Perkins wants world swimming's governing body FINA to slap mandatory four year bans on first time drug offenders but at the same time came to the defence of China's disgraced Yuan Yuan.

Perkins, who comfortably won the Queensland 1500m championship yesterday, has again called on FINA for harsher sentencing on drug cheats, also calling for coaches and administrators to be dealt with equally. Olympic and world champion Perkins, a long-time critic of FINA's drug strategies, wants automatic bans. "They've been sitting on their hands for a long time now on this issue. For months they've been saying 'we can't do anything, we don't have any proof'," he said. "They've got proof now but they are still trying to close it down. The best thing they can do is take some clear and positive action to send a clear message.

"I think four years for a first offence. In reality it's a life ban anyway."

He said Yuan may have been under pressure to take the human growth hormones which were discovered in her luggage in Sydney en route to Perth for the world championships last Thursday. "It's even a little unfair on Yuan Yuan," Perkins said. "I think she's a scapegoat personally. She probably was on the drugs but she may not have known about it or could have been forced.

"It's very difficult to shun an athlete like that. The coaches, the administrators, the system definitely ... they've got a lot to answer for.

"There really should be a lot more heads rolling." And the world record holder suggested that China, through Yuan Yuan's coach Zhou Zhewen, had almost certainly broken FINA's regulation that if more than four athletes were guilty of drug use that nation receives a year-long ban.

"It was a little naive of FINA to stop there," Perkins said of banning Yuan and Zhou from the world championships in Perth. "It's ridiculous to think a coach is going to implement something into his training programme simply for one swimmer." He said China had treated the swimming world with contempt by trying to smuggle human growth hormones into Australia.

"It's an indication of the contempt they have for FINA and world swimming," he said. "These aren't a bag of vitamins we are talking about, it's pretty heavy stuff. They've got enough there to last five or six swimmers over two weeks ... that's a lot of drug."
Note: A few days after Perkins said this, 4 more Chinese swimmers tested positive to drugs.

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