Sweetenham lashes out at 'showmanship' testing
NATIONAL coach Bill Sweetenham called the world governing body's spot drug testing at the Asian Games 'a waste of time' after Hong Kong swimmer Katie Lau King-ting was one of 29 athletes tested in Hiroshima.
Swimming's ruling body FINA have despatched a doping team to Hiroshima for the Asian Games and a surprise sweep this week saw tests done on 16 Chinese swimmers, 12 Japanese and Lau.
But Sweetenham said it will not help in nabbing the cheats and should have been done three weeks ago.
'It is an absolute waste of money and time,' said Sweetenham yesterday, on the eve of the swimming competition. 'It happened two days before competition which doesn't mean anything because if you are here, you are clean.
'I think it was just done for showmanship. FINA wants to show that they are doing something.
'If they are serious, they should have testing out of competition, at random and anywhere in the world at any time.' Samples have been sent to Mitsubishi Yuka B. C. Laboratory in Tokyo, an IOC-accredited centre, and results, if positive, will be published about a week later.
Sweetenham said if any swimmers in Hiroshima were using drugs, they would have stopped dosage weeks before the competition.
'If you are going to take drugs and you are reasonably intelligent, you would not be caught in competition,' he said.
It is believed that the drug sweep, done only on female swimmers, was ordered by FINA because of suspicion of rife doping among the Chinese women, who dominated the recent World Championships in Rome.
Lau, a 14-year-old butterfly specialist who remains one of Hong Kong's outside hopes for a medal, said she was not worried about being tested.
'It felt quite funny because I've never been tested before,' said Lau.
'But I'm not concerned. I've been careful with what I've been taking and we are advised of what to do in case we need any kind of medicine.' Lau is one of four swimmers who kick off Hong Kong's bid for honours at the Hiroshima Big Wave pool today.
She joins Robyn Lamsam in the women's 100 metres freestyle event - the first event of the Asian Games competition.
With only 13 swimmers in the competition, Lamsam, with an entry time of 59.68 seconds, has a good chance of qualifying for the final.
Distance swimmer Mark Kwok and Arthur Li are also in action today in the men's 200 metres freestyle.
'I can't see them winning a medal,' said Sweetenham. 'But it is important for grounding Katie in preparation for the 100 metres butterfly.
'Robyn seems to be in good form and I'm hoping for a hard swim from her.' Li's main event is the men's 100 metres butterfly.
Apart from Lau, Hong Kong hope to perform well in the women's 4 ? 100 metres relay.