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Thursday, 21 September, 2000, 09:46 GMT 10:46 UK
Dutch defence after drug talk
Pieter van den Hoogenband
Van den Hoogenband: Records and golds have prompted drug rumours
The technical director of the Dutch swimming team and the coach of stars Inge de Bruijn and Pieter van den Hoogenband have both hit out at critics who accused the swimmers of using performance-enhancing drugs.

De Bruijn, who has set 10 individual world records this year, and van den Hoogenband's outstanding performances in the Olympics have led to whispers about doping.

"You know the people are stupid, especially people who are into swimming - especially coaches who say that - they shouldn't be here," Jacco Verhaeren said.

"If I thought anyone used drugs or whatever, I wouldn't be here.

"I think it's a little bit of jealousy, I don't know why they do that, it makes me sad but that's it and I don't want to think about it."

US women's coach Richard Quick claimed Thursday night that some Olympic swimmers were using drugs but he fell short of identifying the culprits.

If I thought anyone used drugs or whatever, I wouldn't be here
  Jacco Verhaeren, Dutch coach
"I absolutely do not think this is a drug-free Olympics," he said.

"I'm not pointing the finger at anybody or any nation here, I'm going on intuition, maybe in some cases the depth of the field."

In response, the technical director of the Dutch swimming team, Ad Roskam, said Quick's suggestion that some swimmers were using performance-enhancing drugs was unfair because it cast doubts on every competitor.

Roskam said he would have preferred that Quick, the head coach of the U.S. women's team, had taken his concerns to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) or swimming's world governing body FINA rather than the press.

Asked if he thought Quick was insinuating his team was cheating, Roskam replied: "I can't imagine that he is referring to the Dutch team. Outstanding performances occur in each team so I don't know what he means by that.

"I wish the press and other people would stop bothering the athletes about the drug problem and start addressing the people responsible, the governing bodies in sport," he said.

"The athletes have no way of even remotely proving that they are clean and drugs free but people keep asking them and keep asking them what they think about it, what they feel about the allegations. It's not fair to the ones that are clean.

"(Quick) should address the people that make the big bucks and make the decisions and somehow don't have the guts to make the decisions with lots of money and developing testing procedures."

Drug talk

Verhaeren coaches de Bruijn and van den Hoogenband and he knows any drug-related talk will be linked to them.

De Bruijn won the 100m butterfly gold and van den Hoogenband has toppled Australian Ian Thorpe and Russian great Alex Popov to win the 100m and 200m titles.

Told of Quick's remarks, Verhaeren said: "Did Richard Quick do that? It makes me sad, you know he congratulates me when we have medals and good results, and if he wants to say that just let him do it. We won't discuss it."

Only two Dutch swimmers made finals at the 1992 Barcelona Games before a complete overhaul of the training programme began under the leadership of technical director Roskam.

Roskam, who started his reign by sacking the entire national coaching staff, used the Australian Institute of Sport as his model and employed teams of dieticians and sport scientists to back up his roster of full-time coaches and swimmers.

Inge De Bruijn
Inge De Briuijn's 10 world records have fuelled doping whispers
The Dutch camp is adamant that the rise of van den Hoogenband, who joined the programme as a 14-year-old in 1992, and de Bruijn is a direct result of that programme.

"It's a coincidence that two talents from the Netherlands are here at the same time at the same Olympics, but it's been coming because they are both very talented athletes," said Roskam.

Australian Susie O'Neill described de Bruijn's eight world records leading into the Olympics as "pretty suss" before apologising to her via e-mail.

Asked about de Bruijn in particular, Quick said: "I presume she is (clean) unless something were to change that."

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See also:

20 Sep 00 |  Swimming
Dutch double stops Popov hat-trick
19 Sep 00 |  Swimming
Flying Dutchman sets world best
20 Sep 00 |  Swimming
De Bruijn smashes record
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