Olympic Insider: Ye’s great time raises questions

Posted: August 01, 2012

Like all athletes, 16-year-old swimmer Ye Shiwen of China was hoping to have the time of her life at the London Games.

When she did, people started asking questions.

Ye shattered Stephanie Rice's world record in the 400-meter individual medley on Saturday, finishing in 4:23.43. She swam the final 50-meter split in an astoundingly quick 28.93 seconds. To put that in perspective, that's faster than the 50-meter split time turned in by Ryan Lochte (29.10) in the men's 400 IM.

Not surprisingly, rumors of doping quickly spread.

China, after all, had been involved in doping scandals in the 1980s and '90s.

And Ye was a teammate of Li Zhesi, who was barred from the Olympics in June over blood-booster EPO.

On Monday, reporters met with Arne Ljungqvist, the International Olympic Committee's medical commission chairman, concerning Yi's unusually fast time.

"Suspicion is halfway an accusation that something is wrong," Ljungqvist said. "I don't like that. I would rather have facts."

Shiwen denied she had done anything illegal. But French swimmer Alain Bernard is skeptical.

"I'm for clean sport, without doping, and I truly hope the authorities in charge of this are doing their job in good conscience and really well," Bernard said. "Unfortunately, I want to say that there is no smoke without fire. But today there is no proof to show that any Chinese has tested positive in this competition."

ANOTHER FACE IN CROWD

On Monday, the "Today Show" aired a feature in which one of its reporters interviewed tourists in front of Buckingham Palace.

Among them was former world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, who was not identified because - it seems - the reporter didn't recognize him.

Holyfield was asked what he thought of Queen Elizabeth's gig with James Bond actor Daniel Craig in the Opening Ceremonies.

Holyfield said it was "wonderful." Later, in a tweet, he revealed that the show indeed had no idea who he was.

"The @todayshow did interview me [Sunday] and ur right they didn't mention who I was."

LIGHTEN UP

The people who run the Olympics are many things. Whimsical isn't one of them.

U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte wanted to wear his decorative red, white and blue dental grill on the podium after winning the 400 individual medley on Saturday.

Some stick-in-the-mud official told Lochte that if he wore it, he wouldn't get the gold medal.

Needless to say, Lochte removed it.

Also needless to say, that official is an idiot.

MILLIE ROW-NILLI

The Olympics may have its first major scandal.

According to The Atlantic, the swooshing sound made by the oars during the rowing events is piped in by NBC.

Seems the noise of the chase boats drowns out the sounds of the oars. So NBC decided to use a soundtrack recorded at rowing practice to give the viewers a more authentic experience.

HE WORKS CHEAP

How much do you think Paul McCartney was paid to appear in the Opening Ceremonies? Go ahead, take a guess. And remember they use pounds, not dollars.

According to London organizers, McCartney and other big-name performers donated their time.

Still, they had to receive a nominal fee to make their contract legally binding. Thus, McCartney received one pound, or $1.57 cents.

WHO KNEW?

The gold medals given out at the Olympics are not as gold as you think.

At the 2012 Games, they are only 1.34 percent gold. The rest is 92.5 percent silver and 6.16 percent copper.

Melted down, the three metals together would fetch about $650.

SLIPPERY WHEN WET

Judo competitor Felipe Kitadai, of Brazil, will get a bronze medal to replace the one he won in the men's 60-kilogram competition.

The old one?

Seems he took it with him everywhere, including the shower, where he dropped it. Kitadai said the loop that holds the string on the medal broke and the medal itself got a pretty good dent in it.

Paybacks are a . . .

Abby Wambach got justice for the black eye she received from Colombia's Lady Andrade during Saturday's women's soccer game.

On Monday, FIFA banned Andrade from playing in Colombia's next two matches beginning with Tuesday's match against France.

Wambach, who will take the field Tuesday against North Korea, didn't seemed fazed by the incident. She even posted a picture of herself sporting the shiner on Twitter.

OLYMPICS HIGHLY RATED

Viewers may be complaining about NBC's delayed coverage of the London Games, but they're still watching.

The Nielsen company said Sunday's prime-time coverage was seen by 36 million people, the largest audience ever for the second night of an Olympics held outside the U.S. The network is averaging 35.8 million viewers in prime time over 3 nights.

ALL ABOUT SCHMIDT

Oscar Schmidt, a former basketball star from Brazil, showed up at the U.S. team's practice Monday.

Schmidt was surprised that today's players remembered him. Kobe Bryant, in fact, insisted on taking a picture with Schmidt, who led Brazil to a win over the U.S. at the 1987 Pan Am Games.

That U.S. team included David Robinson and Danny Manning.

Someone asked Schmidt how many points he had in that game.

"I scored 46," he said, "35 in the second half."

Someone else mentioned that he made almost all of his shots.

"That was always the case," he said with a laugh.

AWWWWW MOM

Mike Dawson couldn't argue with this judge.

The New Zealander advanced to the semifinals of the kayak slalom even though he was assessed a 2-second penalty by a female judge - his mother Kay.

Dawson said it "definitely dispels any hint of bias and I wouldn't have it any other way."

BANNED FROM GAMES

Twitter can, in the right hands, inform, educate and entertain.

But in the wrong hands, it can be a hurtful weapon.

Swiss soccer player Michel Morganella was expelled from the Olympics Monday for tweeting a racist comment about South Koreans. He did so hours after South Korea beat Switzerland, 2-1, on Sunday.

South Koreans, he wrote, "can go burn." He also called them a "bunch of mongoloids."

Swiss Olympic team chief Cian Gilli said Morganella "discriminated against, insulted and violated the dignity of the South Korea football team as well as the South Korean people."

In an all-too-familiar move, Morganella released a statement apologizing for his actions.

"I am sincerely sorry for the people of South Korea, for the players, but equally for the Swiss delegation and Swiss football in general," he said. "It's clear that I'm accepting the consequences."

Morganella is the second athlete to be kicked out of the Games for inappropriate Twitter comments. Last week, Greek triple jumper Voula Papachristou was banned before the Games began after tweeting what she said was a joke:

"With so many Africans in Greece, the West Nile mosquitoes will be getting home food!!!," she wrote.

She too issued an apology, which like Morganella's was too little, and far too late.

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