Dressel dominates in pool but doping casts shadow on Gwangju world champs
GWANGJU – Caeleb Dressel confirmed his star status
with a record medal haul at the swimming world championships which
concluded Sunday in Gwangju while there was a hint that
compatriot Katie Ledecky is not super human after all.
But with the eyes of the sport now turning to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics
a year from now, doping remains a shadow which cannot be escaped
America's Dressel not only erased the great name of Michael Phelps
from the world record books in the 100-metre butterfly but became the
first athlete to return home from a championships with eight medals
(six golds and two silver), one more than two years ago in Budapest.
"It was not easy in '17, and it was not easy this year," Dressel
said. "I don't want it to be easy, I really don't."
The swimming worlds offers more medal chances than in Phelps' time
with the introduction of medley relays but the Games next year has a
tighter programme due to the total number of swimmers that can be
"As a team, this is kind of a weird year because we don't have a
trials leading up to this meet," Dressel said. "We are light-years
ahead of where we were in 2015, and we had a great meet in Rio
(2016), so if this is where we're at heading into Tokyo, I think
we'll be very dangerous next year."
With multiple individual winners the US were the top nation in the
pool but Ledecky, virtually unbeatable in the distance freestyles,
had to settle for just one gold in the 800m.
She did add minor medals along with two scratches as illness ravaged
her hopes of a distance sweep.
"I took it out like I usually do, and just kind of relied on my
training to bring me home," Ledecky said of pipping Italy's Simona
Quadarella in the final sprint.
"I just tried to stay calm and relaxed from the 500 to the 750, and
decided in the last 100 when I was going to make a move. (From there)
I just put my legs into it and got my hand on the wall."
Outside of the US, teenagers Maggie MacNeil of Canada, Kristof Milak
of Hungary and Ariarne Titmus of Australia, who beat Ledecky in the
400m free, also established themselves on the global stage with gold.
Doping remains an issue, however, with China's Sun Yang subject to
podium protests by other athletes. Sun served a secret three-month
doping ban in 2014 and is currently competing despite a case at the
Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over doping test samples being
smashed in a confrontation with officials last year.
Australia also made the headlines for the wrong reasons as it emerged
Shayna Jack tested positive for doping shortly before the
The 20-year-old protested her innocence after a sample revealed
traces of Ligandrol, which can help repair muscle, was found in her
But Swimming Australia and the country's Anti-doping body bickering
over who could reveal the ban and when did not give an impression of
That delighted some Chinese media who pointed out the apparent
hypocrisy of Mack Horton, an Australian swimmer, being one of the
leaders of the protests against Sun.