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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 October 2006, 13:20 GMT 14:20 UK
Anger at Beijing swimming switch
British Swimming bosses have hit out at the International Olympic Committee for switching swimming finals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics to the morning.

The move is a partial concession to American network NBC, who wanted events moved to suit its audience.

Chief executive David Sparkes said: "We're very disappointed - it's clearly a decision the IOC may come to regret."

National performance director Bill Sweetenham added: "Common sense sometimes doesn't prevail."

Much of the gymnastics programme will also be switched to the morning sessions, although athletics finals will be held in the evening, with rowing and diving staged in the afternoon for British and Australian television respectively.

The decision ends months of talks between the IOC and broadcasters.

The proposed shift for the swimming finals caused uproar when it was leaked in Australia earlier this year.

Many high-profile Australian swimmers led a campaign to retain evening finals at Beijing, and the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) formally opposed the switch to morning finals on the grounds it was problematic for athletes.

The only thing that gets me cranky is that (the IOC) have made the decision for commercial reasons, not for the good of the sport

Alan Thompson
Australian swimming coach
But IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said: "It's neither a new process nor a new issue. In every Games we have to look at the needs of different stakeholders.

"All broadcasters request things that suit their needs."

IOC co-ordination commission chairman Hein Verbruggen said the schedule had finally been agreed "after a thorough consultation process".

The IOC believes the early announcement gives competitors sufficient time to adjust their training.

NBC paid 1.88bn for the exclusive North American media rights to screen the Games between 2000 and 2008.

Australia's head coach Alan Thompson said the decision would not hurt his country's medal chances.

"The only thing that gets me cranky is that (the IOC) have made the decision for commercial reasons, not for the good of the sport," said Thompson.

"I don't think swimming in the morning will lessen our chances of picking up medals or anything like that. We know with plenty of time to prepare."

AOC president John Coates issued a statement saying the Australian swimmers would simply have to adapt.

"We expressed a concern for the well-being of the athletes having to swim heats late at night and then returning to the pool the following morning to swim finals," Coates said.

"After evening heats swimmers need to warm down and possibly do a drug test before returning to the Village, this makes it a very late night."

Coates also said the fact that international swimming's governing body, Fina, did not oppose the proposed changes made it easier for the IOC to alter the schedule.

  • About 25% more doping tests will be conducted at the Beijing Olympics than were carried out at the Athens Games in 2004, the IOC announced on Thursday.

    "As part of its zero tolerance approach to fighting doping, the number of tests will be significantly increased," said an IOC statement.

    "Final numbers are to be confirmed but are expected to be around 4,500, a 25 percent increase on Athens 2004."

    The Athens total was itself a 25% rise on the 2000 Games in Sydney, where 11 athletes were caught cheating.

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