If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'. So says many a NASCAR driver. Or NFL
coach (just not publicly).
Not surprisingly, we are reminded every four years, you can add Olympic athletes to that list. Swimmer Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa, specifically. Somewhat refreshingly, the gold medal winner told a newspaper in Australia he did indeed slip in a few extra “dolphin kicks” (whip-like motions you see swimmers make after they turn) on his way to a world record in the 100-meter breaststroke Sunday in London.
"If you're not doing it, you're falling behind," the South African told the Sydney Morning Herald. "It’s got to the sort of point where if you're not doing it 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."
Under the rules, breaststroke swimmers are allowed one dolphin kick after they turn. On video, van der Burgh is shown doing three. While it’s pretty clear he violated the rules during Sunday’s event, there is no underwater judge, and officials do not watch that video during the Olympics.
The guy who finished second Sunday is Christian Sprenger, his Australian rival, who van der Burgh said also takes advantage of the situation. Hence the interest of the Australian media.
Two years ago judges were watching footage from an underwater, van der Burgh said. And— surprise— the extra kicks were not an issue.
"It was really awesome because nobody attempted it,” he explained. "Everybody came up clean and we all had peace of mind that nobody was going to try."
Implementing that technology at the Olympics would be welcome by the gold medalist. But until that happens, don’t expect him to stop taking advantage of the fact nobody who could penalize the swimmers is watching.
"I’m really for it. If they can bring it, it will better the sport. But I’m not willing to lose to someone that is doing it.”
Image above: Gold medalist Cameron van der Burgh hugs Christian Sprenger after the presentation ceremony. Photo by Getty Images