LONDON (AP) — Two finals, two golds. And all anybody wants to know about Chinese teen swimming sensation Ye Shiwen is whether she’s doping.
After shattering the world record in the 400 individual medley on the opening day of the pool competition at the London Games, the 16-year-old broke her own Olympic record to take the 200 IM title Tuesday.
Ye flashed smiles toward the crowd and sang her national anthem, then walked into a packed and hostile press conference where she faced one question after another over whether she is taking performance-enhancing drugs.
Ye is smaller than most swimmers at her level but has never failed a drug test, and Olympic organizers spent much of the day defending her, saying the suspicions were “crazy” and motivated by jealousy.
“Of course, I think this is a little bit unfair for me, but I was not affected by that,” Ye said in comments translated from Mandarin.
Asked directly whether she had ever doped, she said: “Absolutely not.” She added that she has trained 2 1/2 hours every morning and 2 1/2 hours each afternoon for nine years.
It has paid off in London.
In Saturday’s 400, Ye sliced through the last lap in 28.93 seconds — a split-second faster than American winner Ryan Lochte posted in the last 50 of the men’s race.
Her overall time was 4:28.43, more than a second quicker than the previous world record set by Australia’s Stephanie Rice at the 2008 Beijing Games in a now-banned bodysuit.
Her latest victory wasn’t so emphatic. Still, she became the first Chinese swimmer with two Olympic golds. Ye was only third at the final turn, then surged ahead in the last lap of freestyle, her best stroke.
She clocked 2 minutes, 7.57 seconds, shaving 0.18 off her Olympic record set in Monday’s semifinal. She was far off the world record set by American Ariana Kukors at the 2009 worlds — the height of the high-tech bodysuit era.
Alicia Coutts of Australia wasn’t too far behind to take silver in 2:08.15, and Caitlin Leverenz of the United States finished in 2:08.95 to take bronze. Defending champion Rice of Australia was fourth.
“I never really expected to swim that fast,” Ye said. “I was surprised. I was really nervous. I thought, ‘I cannot lose. Freestyle is my best stroke.’”
Leverenz was also asked about Ye and said she was “not the person to judge.” She said she trusted anti-doping authorities to do their job.
On Monday, John Leonard, the head of the American Swimming Coaches Association but not a member of the U.S. Olympic staff, was among those openly questioning Ye’s legitimacy.
The Guardian newspaper quoted him as saying the last 100 meters of her 400 IM “was reminiscent of some old East German swimmers.”
“History in our sport will tell you that every time we see something, and I put quotation marks around this, ‘unbelievable,’ history shows us that it turns out later on there was doping involved,” Leonard was quoted as saying.
Olympic organizers resolutely defended the teen.
“We need to get real here,” said International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams. “These are the world’s best athletes competing at the very highest level. We’ve seen all sorts of records broken already all over the place.”
Adams said the top five athletes in each event, plus two others, are tested as part of “a very, very strong drug-testing program, and we are very confident if there are cheats we will catch them.”
“We can’t stop speculation. It is inevitably a sad result of the fact that there are people who dope and who cheat,” Adams said. “It’s very sad we can’t applaud a great performance. Let’s give the benefit of the doubt to the athletes.”
Julio Maglione, the president of swimming’s governing body, FINA, told The Associated Press that people are free to say “stupid things” if they want.
“It’s a big mistake,” Maglione said, dismissing Ye’s doubters as “crazy.”
He said FINA spends $1 million to drug test the top 30 swimmers in the world two or three times a year and the sport is “absolutely clean.” He said that he has absolutely no suspicions about Ye and that her critics are jealous because China is becoming a swimming power.
Ye is known for her large hands and feet, but otherwise she’s smaller than other swimmers at 5 feet 7 inches and 141 pounds.
“One of the interesting things about swimming is people don’t swim the same way,” said Bob Bowman, coach for U.S. star Michael Phelps. “They have to swim the way their body is made, so that’s what she’s doing. She’s taking advantage of her size.”
Of her swim on Saturday, he added: “The girl has good technique. She had an amazing last 100, but people do amazing things sometimes.”
Ye, after the Tuesday night swim, agreed with a suggestion that the speculation was part of a biased campaign against China. She thanked her coaches, teammates and parents for her success.
“They are the people who make me strong,” Ye said. “That’s why I’m not so affected by the outside noise.”