This so does not align with our Olympic spirit.
South African swimmer Cameron van der Burgh, who won the gold medal in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke at the London Olympics, has admitted to cheating during his winning swim — and he doesn’t seem particularly remorseful about it.
According to the breaststroke rules, swimmers are allowed one “dolphin” (or butterfly) kick under water after they dive into the pool, and another one after each turn. The dolphin kick, which involves swimmers keeping both legs together and using their hips to propel themselves forward, is arguably the most powerful kick in swimming.
Van der Burgh took three extra dolphin kicks during his gold medal swim, which were caught on camera. However, since judges at the Olympics aren’t allowed to use underwater video to make their calls, he got away with it — and gets to keep his medal.
“If you’re not doing it, you’re falling behind,” Van der Burgh told the Sydney Morning Herald, admitting that he did break the rules in his race. “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.”
It’s unlikely that the IOC will take Van der Burgh’s medal away over a week after he won it, but this incident could inspire FINA (the international governing body of swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming and open water swimming) to change their policy on underwater video review in future competitions.