LONDON -- As doping allegations raged about Chinese phenom Ye Shiwen, United States swimming officials scrambled Tuesday to distance themselves from the story.
John Leonard, the Florida-based executive director of the World Swimming Coaches Assn., called Ye’s performance “impossible” and “unbelievable” on Monday, telling the Guardian that similarly rapid improvements by swimmers have been followed by evidence of doping.
Ye, 16, set a world record in winning the women’s 400-meter individual medley on Saturday. She is to swim in the final of the 200-meter IM on Tuesday, one night after 17-year-old Missy Franklin set an American record in winning gold in the 100-meter backstroke.
U.S. women’s coach Teri McKeever said record-setting performances should not be unexpected at the Olympics.
“Of course you are going to watch and be impressed and have questions,” McKeever said. “How the hell could Missy do what she did? That’s pretty impressive too. We are pushing the envelope in elitism. We should see things we’ve never seen before.”
McKeever declined to discuss whether she was skeptical of the legitimacy of Ye’s performance.
“I don’t have a space for that right now,” McKeever said.
In a statement, USA Swimming said that “John Leonard ... is not an employee, representative or spokesperson for USA Swimming, nor is he a member of the U.S. Olympic Swim Team or a part of the U.S. delegation here in London.”
USA Swimming had no comment about the substance of Leonard’s allegations, spokeswoman Karen Linhart said.