Ye Shiwen fought off burnout and depression after drug slurs of London 2012

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ye-shiwenRead The Independent

Last summer, on the opening day of London’s Games, Ye produced a landmark swim, obliterating a four-year-old world record with a performance that defied belief. There were plenty who did not believe her achievement and innuendo was already her companion as she stepped onto the podium to collect gold for the 400m individual medley. […]

Last month she won three titles at her national championships, a first step towards her aim of repeating her London double – she also won her signature event, the 200m individual medley. At August’s World Championships in Barcelona, she will step warily into the global spotlight again because London bruised her.

“I was very depressed and angry after London,” says Ye, “but everything is fine now.” […]

“Any time someone has looked like Superwoman in the history of our sport they have later been found guilty of doping,” suggested the respected US coach John Leonard. He drew parallels with Michelle Smith, the Irish swimmer who won the same event in 1996 and was found to have tampered with a dope test sample two years later. Smith has always denied doping. Ye too denies doping. She is, she says, tested regularly. A question about doping – should she be more blunt and vehement in her denials – elicits an exchange between Ye and the translator who has accompanied her from Beijing. Ye exhales loudly.

“She says,” the translator instructs finally, “she uses the evidence from Wada [the World Anti-doping agency]and their results to answer this question.” It has become her default defence after being asked again and again in London. Did it hurt being accused of being a doper? “Yes,” nods Ye. […]

She says she felt “burnt out” after London, an experience she got through via daily phone calls to her parents. “During the Olympics it was pretty challenging so every day my parents would call me to relax me and calm me, make me stronger,” she says. “I was pretty angry when I was asked the questions about doping but after a while it was OK and everything is fine for me.”

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Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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