Why Elka Graham Should “Dob In” Drug Cheat

By Jane

Most off of us have heard the story of Australian Olympic medalist Elka Graham claiming to have been offered performance enhancing drugs before the Athens Olympic Games. I think most of us agree that Graham should name the swimmer who made the offer, whom she says is now in retirement. I don’t actually care all that much who the person was; I care who it wasn’t.

There a whole hoard of athletes whose names have now been called into suspicion by Graham’s Sydney Morning Herald post. She says that the swimmer was an “elite” athlete, indicating (but not specifically saying) that this person was also attending the Olympics. She doesn’t say which country the person represented, whether they were male or female, and she doesn’t provide any other identifying information aside from the fact that they’ve since retired. This calls into question not only every retired Australian swimmer, but many foreign athletes as well.

In a climate where every world-beater, and many lesser competitors, find themselves at the end of cheating accusations, it’s important not to mislabel anyone. Obviously, Graham’s revelation of the athlete in question will, or would, be quite a blow to Australia, whose citizens tend to view swimming as Americans do baseball and the English do soccer. Down under, national team members are like NFL stars: the average American can tell you who Michael Phelps is, whereas Australians know the names and events of at least half their country’s swim team.

Some have leveled accusations at Graham that she has done this for attention. She has been active in Australian media of late, establishing a name for herself in much the same way as former Australian representative Nicole Livingston. Yes, telling this story has catapulted Graham into the public eye, and her media career may well benefit from the exposure; however, I’m glad she’s done it. So long as the story is true – and that would be one hell of a tale to make up – I think it’s great that this elite-level cheating may get addressed. However, someone (for I guarantee you that Graham is not the only person who knows about this) needs to part with the cheat’s name.

I’m sure none of us want to look at everyone who swam at Athens and who now does compete not with an eye of suspicion. There are some very prestigious names in that club. While we all like to tout the idea of innocence until proof of guilt, and while we all realise that Graham’s story is (right now) impossible to prove, we’ll all wonder who the cheat is and we’ll be suspicious of clean swimmers. I hope the person gets caught, but I hope his or her innocent teammates are cleared even more.