T&T swimmer George Bovell III yesterday lashed out at the world governing body for swimming, FINA, for allowing drug cheats free reign in the sport.
He said as a result the current swimming competition at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, had effectively become a realty TV show in which the cheats were winning while the athletes who stuck to the true tenets of the Olympic spirit were always on the losing end.
Bovell made the comment to the UK Guardian moments after he failed to make it into the semi-finals of his pet event, the 50-metre freestyle yesterday.
He placed third in heat eight in a time of 22.30 seconds but could not make the next round.
?I came into the Olympics, my first Olympics, believing in the ancient legacy of heroic sporting glory and now I am leaving after my fifth Olympics seeing it for what it is, sadly, a media franchise,? he told the paper.
Bovell accused FINA of letting down the swimmers and the sport, saying the world body?s approach to anti-doping ?has made it very, very obvious that this is really a glorified reality TV show.
?They (FINA) have shown the world that the Olympics is now a spectacle, not a competition and I think it cheapens everything,? he said, adding: ?Swimmers are being?let down by the people at the top of the sport.?
Doping has been a big issue at the Games, especially in the wake of the ban of the entire Russian team from competing in Brazil weeks before the event after their athletes were exposed to be part of a massive State-run doping programme.
Some of their athletes, however, were quietly allowed back in the Games at the last minute.
The Russians have five swimmers at the Games and they have been feeling the wraith of the fans who have been booing some of them as they take to the pool for events.
For his part, Bovell said he knew he was competing against dopers.
?I see the cheating going on. I see the people with terrible technique swimming incredible times and the people dropping lots of time late in their careers.?
However, he said the swimmers were being exploited by FINA.
?The people at the bottom, like us, we just feel like gladiators. Ancient Roman slave gladiators,? he said.
Bovell, who is in his fifth Olympics in 16 years, had been hinting his disappointment at the situation in tweets prior to yesterday.
However, yesterday?s interview finally put on record in a major way his true feelings of the mess FINA has made of its anti-doping policies.
He added he was not the only swimmer upset at FINA?s approach to doping either.
© Luis Oberto
© Luis Oberto Anselmi
Bovell said there were a lot of conversations going on away from the press.
?There is a general consensus that we have been let down and we are fed up,? he said.