By Mark Jones
DUBLIN — Michelle Smith de Bruin’s appeal against her four-year ban from swimming has now been put back to next May. The former triple Olympic gold medalist’s appeal to the Court for Arbitration in Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, was due to be heard next month. However, her lawyers have demanded the discovery of further documentation relating to the case.
De Bruin was found guilty of tampering with a urine sample following an out-of-competition drugs test in January 1998.
Meanwhile, there was anger and recrimination as the Irish Amateur Swimming Association was voted out of existence at the organization’s annual general meeting in Dublin last weekend.
In what was seen as a move away from the scandals surrounding two former IASA coaches, Derry O’Rourke and George Gibney, who were both accused of sexually abusing young swimmers, a new body, Swim Ireland, was formed in place of the IASA. O’Rourke was sentenced to 12 years in prison last February, while Gibney fled the country and is believed to be in the U.S.
However, there was anger at an apparent failure to rid Irish swimming of people who were perceived as the old guard. It was alleged that several members of the executive committee, who were voted back into office, had appointed Gibney as coach to a team traveling to Scotland at a time when he was under investigation for serious offenses.
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Indeed, a former IASA president, Mary O’Malley, withdrew her name from the nomination list for the new Swim Ireland body and criticized the old committee for its past failures.
Marie Cunningham, spokesperson for the Derry O’Rourke Victims Support Group, said she was appalled.
“The Minister for Sport should not restore funding to Irish swimming on the basis of what has happened at his AGM,” Cunningham said.
Apparently, a letter from former international swimmer Gary O’Toole detailing sexual abuse by Olympic coach Gibney was discussed at an IASA meeting in 1993.
“We will not forget what happened and we do sympathize,” said new Swim Ireland President Alice McKibben. “I didn’t see the letter or the details of it.”
“I was not and never have been party to appointing a child abuser to any post,” said Wally Clarke, who was the only nomination for the post of treasurer in Swim Ireland.