South African gold medalist Cameron van der Burgh admitted to taking extra underwater kicks during his 100-meter breaststroke victory last week at the Olympics, an illegal move that would have earned him a disqualification if the judges on deck had seen it.
Swimmers are allowed one underwater dolphin kick during their underwater breaststroke pullouts. Replays show Van der Burgh took three on the start.
He told the Sydney Morning Herald that he took extra kicks, but says he’s not the only one.
”If you’re not doing it, you’re falling behind,” he said. “It’s not obviously – shall we say – the moral thing to do, but I’m not willing to sacrifice my personal performance and four years of hard work for someone that is willing to do it and get away with it.”
Allowing dolphin kicks during breaststroke is relatively new. The rules were changed, in part, because of four-time gold medalist Kosuke Kitajima, a Japanese breaststroke star who routinely added rogue kicks to his underwater. These kicks angered rivals, like American, Brendan Hansen. Then the rule was changed to allow one. But the old “give ‘em an inch” rule came into play and now breaststrokers are trying to sneak in as many kicks as possible, hoping to do it without drawing the attention of officials.
”It’s got to the sort of point where if you’re not doing it you’re falling behind or your giving yourself a disadvantage so everyone’s pushing the rules and pushing the boundaries, so if you’re not doing it, you’re not trying hard enough,” the South African said.
Van der Burgh can get away with the kicks because there is no underwater video review of swimming races. After testing the technology at a meet in 2010, FINA, the international swimming body, has yet to incorporate it in international meets.
After these comments and the potential uproar they’ll create, expect that to change by next year’s world championships.
When I was in uni, I had a couple of courses where the mode of assessment was by way of a three-hour take-home exam. I knew that virtually everyone was discussing the exam questions on MSN (discussions were obviously not allowed). I did the exams all on my own. I felt great when I got a good grade. I would not have felt as good if I had gotten it by cheating.
What's the value of an Olympic gold medal that's obtained by cheating? Saying that 'everyone else is doing it' is just a cheap excuse, and it's quite sad that this guy seems to feel justified in doing what he did.
Kudos to him for admitting it, I guess.