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THE INDEPENDENT, THE GUARDIAN (UK), BRISBANE TIMES, THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (Australia)

Worldcrunch

LONDON – Sixteen-year-old Ye Shiwen is the teenage torpedo, the Chinese swimming prodigy whose devastating performances have already made her the Games' most talked-about new star, writes the Independent.

But on Monday, after winning the 400 meters individual medley in a world-record time of 4 minutes, 28.43 seconds, whispers began. BBC presenter Clare Balding asked, "How many questions will there be over somebody who can swim so much faster than she has ever swum before?"

John Leonard, executive director of the World Swimming Coaches Association told The Guardian he thought the 16-year-old's performance was "suspicious," adding that although "we want to be very careful about calling it doping, every time we see something, and I will put quotation marks around this, ‘unbelievable," history shows us that it turns out later on there was doping involved."

We're all best served by a step back at this point, writes the Brisbane Times. Ye won the 200 meters IM at the Asian Games in 2010 (2.09.37) and the 400 meters IM (4.33.79) when she was 14-years-old. At the time she was 160cm tall, now she's 172cm: the difference in height, length of stroke and size of hand leads to warp-speed improvement.

The Australian newspaper adds that Ye was picked for the Chinese swimming program because of her hands -- her kindergarten teacher noticed she had hands like buckets, and she was soon using them to paddle up and down the pool.

Australian coach Ken Wood, who has been working in China since 2008 told the Associated Press: "In the 1990s, the reputation of Chinese swimming wasn't good. There were a lot of doping problems. But it really is very different now. A lot of attention is paid to training. And despite breaking the world record, Ye Shiwen didn't come out of nowhere. Her results have steadily been improving," he said. "So I think it is down to training, not other methods."

But a retired Chinese Olympic doctor had another point of view. Dr Xue Yinxian told the Sydney Morning Herald that steroids and human growth hormones were officially treated as part of "scientific training" through the 1980's and into the 1990's. Athletes who refused to participate were marginalized she said.

In response to the allegations raised against Ye Shiwen, reports the Sydney Morning Herald, China's former Olympic doctor, Chen Zhanghao said he had long suspected Michael Phelps of using performance-enhancing drugs. "America's Phelps broke seven world records! Is he normal?" asked Dr Chen. "The Americans have made many extraordinary performances, but without evidence we have kept silent."

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Ideas

The "Good Russians" Debate Is Back — And My Rage Just Grows Deeper

A Ukrainian journalist considers the controversy over the shutting down of exiled, independent Russian television station TV Dozhd. Can Russians be opposed to Putin's war and yet support the troops?

photo of protesters holding up a sign that reads Russia is a terrorist state

An October protest in Munich

Sachelle Babbar/ZUMA
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-Essay-

What's been unfolding in Latvia this week is minor compared to the brutality that continues every day in Ukraine. Still, it is telling, and is forcing us to try to imagine what will happen in the future to Russia, and Russians, and the rest of us in the region.

What has been a largely respected and independent Russian television channel, TV Dozhd (TV Rain) was forced off the air in Latvia, where it's been based since being forced into exile after the war in Ukraine began, after Alexei Korostelev, one the channel's main anchors, said on live TV that Dozhd viewers could help the Russian army soldiers and urged viewers to write about mobilization violations.

Korostelev was immediately fired, and the television's management reiterated its absolute opposition to the war and repeated calls for Moscow to immediately withdraw its troops. Nonetheless, the next day Latvia — a fierce Ukraine ally — revoked the channel's license to broadcast

It is a rude return to the "good Russian" debate, which spread across independent newspapers and social media in the weeks after Moscow's invasion. What must we demand from Russians who are opposed to the war and to Vladimir Putin? Should we expect that they not only want an end to the fighting, but should also be pushing for the defeat of their own nation's military?

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