Sunday 11 December 2016

Vincent Hogan: How fast is too fast?

Published 04/08/2012 | 05:00

China's Ye Shiwen poses with her gold medal after winning the women's 200m individual medley in London.
China's Ye Shiwen poses with her gold medal after winning the women's 200m individual medley in London.

You couldn't help but think this week, as the world began to wrestle with swimming's latest unsolved puzzle, of a tiny, solitary tricolour waved from the Atlanta bleachers 16 years ago.

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Michelle Smith's name was invoked many times on the pool-deck as some American amphibians flew into palsied agitation at the sight of Ye Shiwen smoking up the Olympic pool faster than a man. Questions, questions, questions. When gold medal winners climb out to polite applause, you know the Games are being tugged towards the inevitable pharmaceutical sideshow.

Back in '96, I was one of the Irish journalists who took Smith's side in a media civil war that, to this day, places an invisible moat between previously fraternal work colleagues.

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