Fur­niss: Dop­ers cost GB medals

Bri­tons cheated out of ‘at least three bronzes’ ‘We have been pe­nalised more than any na­tion’

The Daily Telegraph - Total Football - - RIO 2016 SWIMMING - in Rio de Janeiro By Daniel Schofield

Bill Fur­niss, the head coach of Bri­tish Swim­ming, in­sists his pride in de­liv­er­ing a record Olympic medal tally for the mod­ern era is checked by the knowl­edge that Bri­tain were cheated out of fur­ther medals by swim­mers who had failed drugs tests.

Bri­tain’s haul of one gold and five sil­ver medals is their best tally in the pool at an Olympics go­ing back 106 years. Yet Fur­niss still could not hide his frus­tra­tion that at least three of the seven Bri­tish swim­mers who fin­ished fourth were de­nied a place on the podium by dop­ers.

That in­cludes Fran Hal­sall los­ing out on a bronze medal in the 50 me­tres freestyle by 0.02 sec to Be­larus’s Ali­ak­san­dra Herasi­me­nia, who tested pos­i­tive for the steroid no­ran­dros­terone in 2003; James Guy in the 200m freestyle to Sun Yang ( Trimetazi­dine, 2014); and Chloe Tut­ton in the 200m breast­stroke to Yuliya Efi­mova (DHEA, 2013).

“Six medals is great, but it sticks in my throat a bit that we have had seven fourths and in at least three of those fi­nals an in­di­vid­ual failed a drug test,” Fur­niss said. “I didn’t say any­thing about it in the build-up be­cause it was a dis­trac­tion, but I think we have been pe­nalised more than any other na­tion here.

“Look at the races and look at the sta­tis­tics. You know it’s out there, it’s in the pub­lic do­main. I’m not go­ing to men­tion names. But as a na­tion, we fell foul of it. It’s hard to take.”

His views are widely shared in a sport gov­erned by an or­gan­i­sa­tion in Fina that saw fit to give Rus­sian pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin a “Fina or­der”, its high­est recog­ni­tion, and whose ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Cor­nel Mar­culescu hugged Sun af­ter his vic­tory in the 200m freestyle. That sim­mer­ing frus­tra­tion has boiled over in Rio, with Olympic cham­pi­ons Mack Hor­ton and Lilly King lead­ing the way in openly call­ing Sun and Efi­mova drugs cheats.

For Fur­niss, the so­lu­tion to the scourge of dop­ing is to re­vert to the one strike and you are out pol­icy. “To me, I think if you fail a drugs test, you should not be at the Olympic Games,” Fur­niss said. “I can’t say it any more clear than that. It’s hard to take. It’s sham­bolic.

“My mes­sage to the peo­ple who gov­ern our sport is that we want a clean sport. My mes­sage is that I have got cer­tain in­di­vid­u­als who I have got to ex­plain that they have done ev­ery­thing right and they are not be­ing looked af­ter. Ev­ery­thing seems to be fo­cused around how fair we can be to peo­ple who have not passed drugs tests. It sticks in my throat.”

Nev­er­the­less, Fur­niss is rightly sat­is­fied with the over­all Bri­tish per­for­mance in Rio, where Adam Peaty won gold in the 100m breast­stroke and sil­vers were con­trib­uted by Jazz Car­lin in the 400m and 800m, Siob­han-Marie O’Con­nor in the 200m in­di­vid­ual med­ley and by the men’s 800m freestyle and 400m med­ley re­lays.

The con­trast with Lon­don 2012, where the host na­tion de­liv­ered a sil­ver and two bronze medals, is not just in the medal re­turn but also in set­ting faster times. At the Rio Aquat­ics Sta­dium, Bri­tish swim­mers set 31 sea­son bests, 10 per­sonal bests, 10 Bri­tish records and two world records, the last men­tioned be­long­ing to Peaty, the un­doubted su­per­star of the squad.

“It is a good launch pad for us,” Fur­niss said. “The thing that pleased me is not just the six medals, it is the seven fourths. It shows that we have got depth, and ob­vi­ously that’s a plat­form.

“The pool is grow­ing. My job and Chris Spice’s job, the per­for­mance di­rec­tor, is to say ‘ This is nice’ and then quickly for­get it so we can get back to do­ing what we are do­ing.”

Fur­niss in­di­cated that he would like to lead the team through to Tokyo in 2020, and Bri­tish Swim­ming would be fools not to grant him that op­por­tu­nity.

His meth­ods have not al­ways been pop­u­lar, no­tably at the Olympic tri­als, where he set the qual­i­fy­ing stan­dards un­com­fort­ably high. He has also made a point of adopt­ing a de­lib­er­ately “Bri­tish way” of do­ing things.

“We learn from all na­tions, but it is a dif­fer­ent way of do­ing it,” Fur­niss said. “It is tough love. We re­ward them when they do well, we com­fort them when they don’t, but we set ex­tremely high stan­dards and we ex­pect them to ad­here to them.”

Med­ley medal: Bri­tain’s 4x100m in­di­vid­ual med­ley team of Chris Walker-Heb­born (left), Adam Peaty, James Guy (front) and Dun­can Scott cel­e­brate their sil­ver

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