Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa won the gold medal and set a world record in the 100m breaststroke at London 2012, but has since admitted to cheating after the Austrialian swim team accused him of taking more dolphin kicks than allowed by the rules.

Reports claim that he will not be stripped of his gold medal because the time to submit an appeal has long passed, and there is no appeal system in place to warrant such an action. However, medals have been stripped from those that took performance-enhancing drugs.

If this is the case, then how does the IOC/governing bodies have power to strip medals from those who admitted/proved to doping but not from those who admitted/proved to such cheating?

  • 1
    I'd have to assume that there are rules for doping, but not for this type of cheating/rule-bending.
    – JW8
    Aug 7, 2012 at 20:55
  • Not even a "catch-all" to consider such cases?
    – user527
    Aug 7, 2012 at 21:45

1 Answer 1


The individual Federations, in this case FINA, make all decisions of this nature, not the IOC. Only FINA could strip someone of a medal, following whatever rules they have for the particular situation. As noted, the appeal period has passed so this result will stand according to the rules that all FINA sanctioned events are run under.

As part of the requirements to be considered an Olympic sport, all Federations must adhere to the rules around doping as stipulated by WADA. These are pretty tough, including the retrospective stripping of medals that goes far beyond most other forms of cheating or dubious actions.

For the record, in this situation the rules, or the enforcement of them, are to blame and not the athlete(s). van der Burgh is guilty only of excess honesty (and this is coming from an Australian). This is on par with say basketball players bending the rules on travelling but getting away with it due to a relaxed interpretation from the umpires. Is that cheating? I wouldn't think so, it's just optimising performance within the imposed constraints.

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    +1 Good answer. Good point about "enforcing" rules vs. "cheating." If it's "relaxed," players will take as much advantage as they can of such a rule.
    – user527
    Aug 7, 2012 at 23:39
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    See this question regarding a tie at the 2012 US Trials for track and field....similar situation in terms of "lack" of a rule to enforce such a situation.
    – user527
    Aug 7, 2012 at 23:55
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    Note, FINA has experimented with underwater cameras to catch these kinds of offenses, I think we will be seeing them coming into play in the next few years. Either that or they they will loosen the rules on breast stroke again.
    – wax eagle
    Aug 8, 2012 at 15:23

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