Tuesday, 11 December 2012

On The Eve Of Battle In Istanbul... Craig Lord Takes Another Shot At Ye Shiwen

Speed Endurance 11 point rebuttal

1 - Interesting decision to highlight Michael Phelps, who split 29.88 and 28.44 on the final 100m. Seems strange not to mention Phelps' second 50m. Despite not being in great 400 IM shape, his final 50m was still half a second faster than Ye, who incidentally has been back ending her races for years.

2 - Ye Shiwen split 28.93 to finish her 400 IM in London. Rebecca Adlington split 28.91 to finish her 800 free in Shanghai a year before. Number of doping accusations on the sly against Adlington - 0.

3 - Lord gives no context to the race. You would think Ye Shiwen pipped Lochte to the men's gold. She didn't, she ended up 23 seconds behind Lochte. News flash, CL. Lochte swam the race entirely differently to Ye Shiwen. He split an incredible 1:56.8 at 200m, Ye Shiwen turned in 2:11.7 (which in real terms would have been approx. 25m behind Lochte).

4 - Fact 1 - Ye Shiwen crushed all other women's freestyle splits in the 400 IM final. Fact 2 - Caitlin Leverenz (=6th) was over a second faster than all other women's splits breaststroke splits in the 400 IM final. Fact 3 - Ryan Lochte was 2.32 seconds clear of the rest of the field at 200m in the men's 400 IM final. All incredible feats.

5 - It's that C word again (not that one). Context. Re-watch the 200 and 400 free finals. They were brutal and both are entirely different races to the 400 IM. The 400 IM is a tough, tough race, but it also involves four different strokes and different muscle fatigue. The comparison to the 200 and 400 free is not as clear-cut as Craig Lord would lead you to believe.

In the 200 free, a race that generally involves early speed and then hanging on for dear life, Allison Schmitt blazed through the first 100m in 55.38. 55.38 is a world class 100m free time. Seven of the eight finalists split sub-57 seconds at 100m, no kidding they finished the race slower than Ye Shiwen. The 400 free, a more tactical race than the 200 requiring close to maximum effort the entire distance, there was no let-up in pace. The top 6 all split 2:00 or faster at 200m.

6 - Schmitt split 55.38 and every 50m from that point on was slower. Muffat was a full 1.5 seconds behind Schmitt at 150m, an insurmountable distance. Ye Shiwen had an Elizabeth Beisel-shaped carrot to chase down on the penultimate lap of the 400 IM, she then got clear and was pulling away on the final lap. Ask any swimmer how it feels to be pulling away at the end of a race, you feel unstoppable. Now try quantifying that when there is an Olympic gold medal to be won at the end of the pool.

7 - See point 5. 400 free is an entirely different race to the 400 IM.

8 - Ye Shiwen's best freestyle times of 55.38 and 1:58.77 are world class times for an IM specialist. I'll repeat, an IM specialist. Camille Muffat has faster times than Ye Shiwen because Muffat is one of the best freestylers the sport of swimming has ever seen. She also focuses entirely on freestyle races... the entire race, not just the final 50m or 100m.

9 - Singling out Ye Shiwen is unfair, especially when Katie Ledecky, Ruta Meilutyte, Missy Franklin, Dana Vollmer, Florent Manaudou, Chad le Clos, Yannick Agnel and Allison Schmitt all made huge improvements this year. I counter your arguments and make no excuses for it.

10 - China had a huge drug problem in the 1990s. 40 positive tests in the 1990s is a terrible record. How has their record been in recent years? How has China's record compared to the US in recent years? What about Brazil's record? 

Ye Shiwen was born in 1996. Two years before Rome 1994 and two years after the infamous bust at the Australian airport in 1998. That was 14 years ago. Since then China has held a home Olympics and has implemented a strict drug testing regime that unearthed a drugs cheat in Li Zhesi shortly before the games. In the last 14 years USA has produced Marion Jones, Justin Gatlin, Lance Armstrong, Floyd Landis, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens to name a notable few. Sadly drug cheaters existed before, they exist currently and they will continue to exist. However, it is unfair to continue to tarnish all Chinese (female) success with the drug label. Strange how the Chinese men don't come in for the same scrutiny that the women do.

11 - Scratching of heads? Is that all that is happening here. If this was simply a case of head scratching why bring up China's doping past? Why bring up East Germany's doping? Why not offer any alternative arguments that might explain Ye Shiwen's final 100m split.

Let's call a spade a spade. Craig Lord's article is as close to an accusation that Ye Shiwen's swim was a drug-enhanced aberration that you can get without actually using the exact words. This is despite no positive tests, a 16 year old making progress, a strong track record from previous years, a clear back-end race strategy from previous years and a comparable split from a female swimmer in the 800 free in Shanghai.

Craig Lord appears desperate for Ye Shiwen to become his very own Lance Armstrong-story. He wants to make it known that he knew all along that Ye Shiwen was doping. It worked for David Walsh and Paul Kimmage, two journalists who never gave up the hunt against Lance Armstrong. It all sounds so reasonable. Except one small point. There is a strong probability that Ye Shiwen is entirely innocent. She is also a 16 years old girl preparing for a big race tomorrow, and once again has to deal with unfounded claims on the eve of a global competition. 

Craig Lord wants a level playing field in swimming. How does singling Ye Shiwen out a day before she races in the 400 IM achieve this?


  1. Lord's stats stack up neater than yours - his context is better too

  2. I have long thought the secret to Ye Shiwen's success is that she is better than okay at every stroke and the Chinese athletes (women particularly) are immensely well conditioned. Look at Zhoa Jing or Liuyang Jiao. Both regularly close races (not so much Jing these days)with amazing speed. Li Xuanxu the other Chinese girl in the final went 29.7 for the last 50m too. The Chinese athletes use tactic and work ethic I feel, situations like Li Zhesi or the 90s doping spree will always leave a cloud over them for some people, the less we aknowledge it the less they will continue.

  3. I disagree with the first anonymous (12 dec 2012, 12:30).

    I saw an interview of Elisabeth Beisel and she made also her rebuttal. Federica Pellegrini swam also under 30 second last 50m in her 400m free (Her WR swim I believe). Beisel thought it is also possible for her to achieve. Of course when that happens, there is nothing wrong with the performance.