'Swimming SA has double standards'

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iol spt pic Gerhard Zandberg REUTERS Swimming South Africa is practising double standards, swimmer Gerhard Zandberg said. Photo: Alessandro Bianchi

Johannesburg - Swimming South Africa (SSA) is practising double standards, swimmer Gerhard Zandberg said in Pretoria on Monday.

“I love swimming and have the sport's best interest at heart, but I feel all swimmers must be treated equally,” he said.

Zandberg, who recently won his appeal against a two-year suspension from SSA in May, was referring to two swimmers sent home from a training camp in Italy recently for allegedly having sex - four times - in front of a minor.

The female swimmer was part of the South African contingent to participate at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow later this month.

Zandberg said he wanted fairness in swimming and these two swimmers got off lightly.

The 31-year-old Zandberg was hauled in front of a disciplinary committee last year, during the World Swimming Championships in Barcelona, after he switched hotel rooms without permission. He opted to share a room with his girlfriend as he was worried about catching flu from his roommate, Cameron van der Burgh.

His disciplinary hearing was held at 11pm, the night before his 50m backstroke semi-final event.

“I was given a two-year ban and was initially told that I had to pay a fine of US10 000 (about R110 000) which was later reduced to R10 000,” Zandberg said.

“I had to appeal as I found the suspension unfair and am now sitting with legal costs of R80 000. At least I did win the case but for these swimmers just to be sent home and nothing else - I find it very unfair.

“I somehow think there is favouritism involved here, because the one swimmer trains with Graham Hill and the other one is with Igor Omeltchenko, who is also one of the top coaches in South Africa.”

SSA's chief executive officer, Shaun Adriaanse, said it was the policy of the federation not to discuss disciplinary matters with the media.

“It is true that two swimmers were sent home for disciplinary reasons,” Adriaanse said.

“The management team that travelled with the team decided they would be suspended and sent them home, but I have no further comment on the matter.”

Sapa


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