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It was a little less than a year into her swimming comeback and, at age 40, Dara Torres was blazing through her heats during the 2007 swimming nationals in Indianapolis.
â€œI swam really fast and my coach (the late Michael Lohberg) said, â€˜Everyone is talking about you.â€™ Iâ€™m like, â€˜Cool.â€™ Heâ€™s like, â€˜No, no. Not cool. They all think youâ€™re not doing it the right way.â€™ And I said, â€˜We have to do something about that,â€™â€ Torres recalls. â€œImagine putting your heart and soul into something your entire life and having someone say that you must be cheating.â€
That was the stark reality Torres says she faced that summer while she prepared for the 2008 Beijing Olympics — only a year after giving birth to her daughter, she was smack in the middle of a steroid era, where there was intense scrutiny throughout all sports on doping issues.
â€œMind you I understand. (The media) has had many athletes look you in the eye, and say, â€˜I have not taken PEDs.â€™ And then theyâ€™re either in jail or (not playing) anymore,â€ says Torres, who competed in her first Olympics in 1984. â€œBut I was just dumbfounded. Iâ€™d never experienced that before.â€
Image courtesy of Karen Blaha, CC BY-SA 2.0