Here are the quotes Leonard gave:
"We want to be very careful about calling it doping". This is kind of like saying "no offense" before you say something really offensive: utterly meaningless when you consider what follows.
"The one thing I will say is that history in our sport will tell you that every time we see something, and I will put quotation marks around this, 'unbelievable’, history shows us that it turns out later on there was doping involved. That last 100m was reminiscent of some old East German swimmers, for people who have been around a while. It was reminiscent of 400m individual medley by a young Irish woman in Atlanta"
In two sentences, Leonard pivots to tell us that whenever a performance like Shiwen's occurs, doping is involved and compares her to two of the most publicized doping cases of the modern era: the East German swimmers of the 1970-80s and Michele Smith from the 1996 games in Atlanta.
At face value, Leonard's comments are merely ignorant and reflect a generally biased western viewpoint. Setting aside the irrationality of the comparison he draws (comparing Shiwen to Michele Smith is particularly uninformed), he is using a common psychological ploy. There is no scenario for John Leonard and his media mouthpiece Craig Lord wherein Chinese athletes do not confirm doping suspicions. If they underperform, it is evidence that they were doped in the past and are no longer, and evidence that high performance by the country in general from the past was doped. If they perform well, they must be doping because they are from China and some past exceptional performances from Chinese athletes have been followed by positive tests.
More galling is the way Leonard treats the issue of coaches who have been accused of molesting swimmers. For Leonard, being from China and swimming fast is enough to indicate someone is doping. Leonard requires far more proof that a coach has abused their athletes. Witness the ASCA photo album, which includes photos of the following coaches:
1. Mitch Ivey, who was featured in Sports Illustrated with the following:
"Noel Moran Quilici, who, at 18, married Ivey, then 30, in 1979. Quilici told ESPN that she "rebuffed his sexual advances" when she was 15 but began a sexual relationship with him at age 17. At the time, she was swimming for Ivey at the Santa Clara Swim Club. Six months after their marriage she discovered his involvement with a 17-year-old swimmer and filed for divorce"
Ivey was subsequently fired from his position as head coach of University of Florida.
2. Paul Bergen. Former Olympic swimmer Deena Deardurff Schmidt publicly implicated and possibly even testified under oath (I am protecting myself in the event that somehow the testimony I read was fabricated) began sexual molesting her while she was a young teenager swimming under him.
3. Rick Curl. Curl remains even after last week a swimmer publicly stated that he entered into a sexual relationship with her when she was just 13 years old, then later convinced her sign a confidentiality agreement. The accusation resulted in an emergency hearing by USA Swimming, with Curl taking a leave of absence from the swim club named after him and the club quickly trying to distance itself.
I could go on, but by now you get the point. As a new day dawned, USA Swimming tried to distance itself from Leonard, stating 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". While that is true, the organization (ASCA) that John Leonard heads is inextricably linked with USA Swimming. USA Swimming uses an ASCA developed test to certify coaches- without a $20 ASCA dvd the two hour exam is nearly impossible to pass on the first attempt.
Swim coaches should be embarrassed that John Leonard represents us. He is part of a morally corrupt old guard in swimming that desperately needs to go away. He stands for what is wrong in swimming- swim coaches worldwide deserve a better leader.