Swimming has global doping problem on same scale as athletics, warn top coaches

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Swimming has a global doping crisis on the same scale as athletics, leading coaches have warned.

‘People saying this is not just Russia and not just athletics are 100 per cent correct,’ John Leonard, executive director of the World Swimming Coaches Association, told Sportsmail.

The association are concerned about possible corruption in swimming’s international governing body and have repeatedly raised their concerns with the World Anti-Doping Agency.

There are fears that the ‘state-sponsored’ doping in Russian athletics revealed this week may be echoed in swimming.

Russia currently has 27 swimmers serving doping bans and earlier this year came within one anti-doping violation of being temporarily suspended from competition.

There is evidence of young teenagers taking performance-enhancing drugs — with 14-year-old backstroke swimmer Daria Ustinova testing positive in 2012.

Leonard added: ‘I am absolutely sure that the Russian swimmers were involved in this system as well as the track-and-field athletes. Russia are always great at the junior level and not as good at the senior level and nobody so far has offered an explanation as to why.

‘It’s obviously criminal because 14 year olds are not giving themselves drugs so someone is criminally affecting the health of children, as they did in the old East German days. Russia has been a greenhouse for this for many decades now.’

Leonard is concerned the sport’s governing body, FINA, carry out drug testing, saying: ‘You cannot have the organisations that are charged with promoting the sport also being the people who decide who gets tested and what they get tested for — which is just as important. That’s the fox watching the hen house and it’s completely unrealistic to have a clean sport when that’s the case.

‘We want to know who decides which swimmer gets tested for what banned substances. The fear is that is being done by professionals in the FINA office to cover for star swimmers.’

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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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