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ATHENS 2004

Peirsol Calls Winner a Cheat

U.S. swimmer says gold medalist in 100 breaststroke used illegal dolphin kick.

August 16, 2004|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

ATHENS — Aaron Peirsol accused Kosuke Kitajima of Japan of "cheating" by using an illegal dolphin kick at the start of the men's 100-meter breaststroke race Sunday at the Olympics.

The accusation came shortly after Kitajima won in 1:00.08, defeating Peirsol's friend and University of Texas teammate, world-record holder Brendan Hansen, who took the silver in 1:00.25. Kitajima, through a translator, denied using the prohibited kick.

Peirsol, normally the picture of Southern California cool, rushed over to reporters just after his own semifinal heat of the 100 backstroke.

"It's just ridiculous. There's nothing you can do about it. Somebody needs to say something. No one else will tell you.... He has Brendan's medal," said Peirsol, the reigning world champion in the 100 and 200 backstrokes.

Peirsol was watching the race with Ian Crocker, and Peirsol said they were stunned to see the underwater shot, saying that Kitajima took advantage of the judges' inability to see the illegal kick.

U.S. men's Coach Eddie Reese said there was no avenue for appeal on a judgment call, adding, "There was no whistle, there was no foul."

Hansen took the high road: "I didn't swim my race. I swam his race."

"He definitely did the dolphin kick," Jason Lezak, another U.S. swimmer, said of Kitajima. "I watched both times on the monitor last summer at the world championships, and I remember the whole crowd going a little, 'Ah.' This time, they didn't show the replay. But in live time it was real obvious."

*

U.S. swimmer Kaitlin Sandeno won her second medal in two days, taking third in the 400 freestyle, in 4:06.19. The winner was Laure Manaudou of France, who went 4:05.34.

Sandeno, whose previous personal best in the event was 4:08.07, has benefited from the 2000 Games, when she was expected to win several medals.

"You can see some of the younger girls are having a harder time in the morning," she said. "That's what happens with experience. I think I'm a more mature swimmer now and having a lot of fun."

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