Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Return of Sarcasm

Last week, a reader of the swimbrief sent me a succinct request: stop writing nice things about people who died and return to disputing the outright lies that ooze like so much puss from various corners of the swimming world. Fine, I'll bite, let's see what's out there. OH, Craig Lord! We had a brief period of unity, mourning Nick Thierry's passing. Now he's back to writing things like this about the John Leonard/Ye Shiwen debacle

"A statement from an American Coach [Leonard], whose words were far more reasonable than the brutish response...which is the more aggressive and unreasonable 'accusation': 'I think this young girl may be the victim of abuse and ought to be concerned and make sure that is not the case'."

Are you sitting down?

You should be, because that is probably the ultimate in Craig Lord quotes. Overly wordy- check. Drugs- check. Defending his friend- check. Completely making up what happened- CHECK. Seriously, let's look back at what Leonard said, and you tell me where he expressed concern for Ye Shiwen and the possibility of her being abused.

What we have here is an attempt from Craig (and maybe Leonard, who knows where these talking points came from) to capitalize on the growing sentiment against coach abuse. Had Leonard expressed that sentiment in the first place, or had any tiny, itsy bitsy shred of credibility on the issue, I would have applauded him. Unfortunately, neither is the case.

I spoke recently with someone who got to spend some one on one time with Leonard at the most recent ASCA convention. I asked him: how can Leonard reconcile his obstinate stance on the most notorious coaches in the sport. The coach confirmed what I had always heard: Leonard presumes innocence with all these coaches unless they are convicted in a court of law. Read that again: a man who has no qualms about lobbing accusations and going to figurative war on seemingly anything else presumes innocence in this one instance. He goes even farther than his increasingly uncomfortable partner USA Swimming, who has at least attempted to process cases where the statute of limitations has long since expired.

It is this convenient stance that allows Leonard to occupy what he considers moral high ground while failing utterly in his obligation as the leader of the biggest swimming coaching organization in the world. Imagine the disgust he would feel if I had a photo album of great swimmers, with nice photos of Ye Shiwen alongside Kornelia Ender. But they never failed a test John!

Lastly, the hypocrisy of what old buddies Leonard and Lord are pushing is lost: we are having this discussion because of the big reveal of USADA's doping evidence against Lance Armstrong. Leonard's narrative in London was based around the fact that "China=Doping". Oops, I guess the team sponsored by our Postal Service wasn't whistle clean- is there a chance that they weren't the only ones? I mean, it is cycling, which from all accounts is the worst doped sport in the world. Earlier this week I watched the excellent ESPN 30 for 30 documentary "9.79*", which revealed among other things that Carl Lewis failed a drug test at the 1988 Olympic trials, and that when later tests were applied to "informational" testing from the mid 1980s, testers found rampant doping among US athletes. Is it possible that the US doesn't have the "history of doping" that China does because we've always been farther ahead of the testing? Valid questions for a more nuanced discussion on this topic.


  1. John Leonard is a bully & red neck. His responce to the San Antonio blogger questioning ASCA corporate status, the blogger was right after all, was a disgrace.

  2. I would appreciate it if you didn't group Leonard in with us.

  3. No offense intended :-)