than a little disingenuous about "talk of her using *** being
in the locker room". It looked as if she was pi**ed off at failing to
qualify for the final (her own fault, as admitted by a senior US coach!)
and was trying to tarnish Michelle's achievement.<<
No one wants to tarnish Michelle's achievement for the sake of jealousy or
mean-spiritedness. I think Gallup polls have proven that Ireland and the
Irish are a country and ethnic group held in almost universal esteem by
virtually all Americans.
No one is the least pi**ed off over the great swims of "foreigner" Danyon
Loader, in an event where another American hero (Dolan) was favored.
But the swimming community has been burned before.
Shirley Babashoff (a resident of my town, Huntington Beach, CA) won 11
Olympic medals--largely silver, but they should have been gold. She made
accusations which were more than innuendo. She was labeled a whiner and a
loser and a slanderer. She did not become a millionaire (as you said
would be the happy destiny of Michelle Smith). Shirley became a mail
carrier for the Huntington Beach post office. But she was right to raise
the questions. Raising obvious questions is not slander and an innocent
swimmer has nothing to fear when questions are raised but when there is no
The circumstances of Michelle Smith's achievements are undeniably
questionable. The people most troubled by it are the people who know the
most about swimming (coaches, swimming specialty journalists, and swimmers
themselves). The average American, who doesn't know that it is
unprecedented for a mature world class woman swimmer to have time drops in
the magnitude of Smith's drops, is not at all concerned. But the experts
ARE concerned. The fact that she is trained by her husband, with a history
of drug controversy, only fuels perfectly understandable speculation.
There is an old saying: "Once burned, twice shy." In this case it is many
times burned, many times shy.
It is a fact that the swimming community will no longer accept at face
value, with no questions asked, remarkable achievements under suspicious
This is the unfortunate burden of Michelle Smith and of future athletes
who find themselves in her situation. It is one more burden to be faced
and to be overcome by a truly deserving champion.