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Gold medal swimmer admits to cheating

4:57 AM, Aug 8, 2012   |    comments
Cameron van der Burgh (RSA) celebrates after winning the men's 100m breaststroke finals in a world record time of 58.46 during the London 2012 Olympic Games at Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
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After winning an Olympic gold medal in the men's 100-meter breaststroke, South African swimmer Cameron van der Burgh pointed his index finger to the sky in joy following his win in world-record time.

Now, Olympic officials could be pointing the finger at him after he admitted to cheating recently.

In breaststroke, competitors are allowed to take one dolphin kick at the start and one after each turn before starting their breaststroke kick. But with no underwater video judging, swimmers are oftentimes able to sneak in an extra kick. Van der Burgh appears to take three of them based on video replays. If judges had caught him, the illegal moves could have earned him a disqualification.

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, he said that he took extra kicks, but pointed out it's typical of other swimmers as well.

"If you're not doing it, you're falling behind," van der Burgh 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.

"I think it's pretty funny of the Australians to complain because in the underwater footage if you actually look at Brenton Rickard in the lane next to me, he's doing the exact same thing as me yet they're turning a blind eye.

"It's got to the sort of point where if you're not doing it you're falling behind or you're 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."

Should van der Burgh lose his gold medal? Well, if we're going by the rules, yes.

Could van der Burgh lose his gold medal? Probably not. The time for appeal has long passed, and there's no replay review in swimming.

But let's not forget that officials have taken a serious stance on cheating in London, banning badminton players for throwing matches and almost banning a runner for not trying hard enough in a race to save energy.

How serious a case of cheating is this? Well, it's not the same as using a banned substance, but if athletes are leaving London for "not trying" enough, a dolphin kick could cost someone a gold medal.

By Scott Gleeson

USA Today

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