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Commonwealth Games 2002

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  Friday, 12 April, 2002, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
Thorpedo targets drug cheats
Triple Olympic gold medallist Ian Thorpe
Thorpe is outspoken against drugs in sport
Australia's triple Olympic gold medallist and swimming sensation, Ian Thorpe talks to Rob Bonnet for the BBC's HARDtalk programme.

Ian Thorpe is arguably the greatest swimmer ever.

He won three gold medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics when he was only 17 and now holds the world record for the 200, 400 and 800 metres freestyle.

Experts say he may well cause coaches all over the world to rewrite the training manuals from now on.

But in a frank interview, Thorpe dubbed "The Thorpedo", accused swimming's world governing body, Fina, of not doing enough to combat drugs in the sport.

"I think that the testing that should be involved in sport should be introduced in a way around the world that actually catches all the people who are breaking the rules," he told Rob Bonnet for BBC HARDtalk.

"Until that's done, sport doesn't maintain the integrity that it used to have. If it doesn't have its integrity it won't exist."

Ian Thorpe
Ian Thorpe holds three world records
Thorpe has been nominated for next month's World Sportsman of the Year title alongside Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods and Michael Schumacher.

Had circumstances been different, Thorpe may not have been around to attend the ceremony.

On 11 September Thorpe only avoided being inside the World Trade Center when it was attacked by terrorists through a series of coincidences.

"A lot of things happened that I'm still sitting here today and I'm very grateful for that. It was a tremendous loss," he said.

He also admitted that even as a staunch Republican this year's Commonwealth Games will be an important event for him.


Thorpe is hoping to compete in the Olympics in 2004 and 2008, but revealed he will only stop swimming when he no longer enjoys it, or when he has achieved everything he can.

Mark Spitz
Spitz won seven Olympic golds in 1972
One of those things could be breaking Mark Spitz's record of seven Olympic golds in one Games, set in Munich in 1972.

But Thorpe was honest enough to admit that it was unlikely to ever be broken, even by him.

He told Rob Bonnet that he was determined to keep his public and private life separate and admitted to feeling pressure to reveal more of his real self.

He also spoke about his start in swimming - being dragged around swimming meets as a boy before taking his first lesson at the age of eight, despite being allergic to chlorine.

"I used to belly flop into the water. I used to swim with my head out of the water, with a nose clip on and I didn't swim well," he said.

But he enjoyed it and persevered and used swimming as a way of building himself up after debilitating bouts of pneumonia.

You can hear the HARDtalk interview in full at the following times:

BBC News 24 (times shown in BST)
12 April 0430, repeated 1030

BBC World (times shown in GMT)
12 April 0430, repeated 1130, 1630, 1930, 0030

Ian Thorpe
"A lot of things happened that I'm still sitting here today and I'm very grateful for that."
See also:

31 Mar 02 |  Other Sports
Thorpe's next golden goal
26 Mar 02 |  Forum
Ian Thorpe quizzed
17 Mar 02 |  Other Sports
Thorpe wants selection changes
28 Feb 02 |  Other Sports
Thorpe named world's best athlete
26 Feb 02 |  Other Sports
Thorpe targets record haul
19 Jan 02 |  Funny Old Game
Reporter puts her foot in it
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