Almost as soon as Ye Shiwen touched the wall to win gold in the 400-meter women's individual medley at the London Olympics on Saturday, the speculation began over whether the 16-year-old Chinese swimming sensation was using performance-enhancing drugs. Those questions only intensified after she took first place in the 200-meter individual medley today. What does it say about our society that every time someone accomplishes an amazing feat in the world of sports, people immediately start questioning whether drugs were involved? Has the public become so jaded that people no longer believe in the value of hard work, persistence and training?
Never mind that there is no evidence that the young champion has been doping. Never mind that she has passed all the stringent tests required by the International Olympics Committee. When a 16-year-old from China breaks a world record by a full second while at the same time knocking five seconds off her own personal best, instead of celebrating her enormous achievement, people immediately start wondering how she could possibly have done it.
One can't help wondering if the same rumors would be flying if she were from a different country. Sadly, China does not have the cleanest record when it comes to performance-enhancing drugs, but is any country immune? The United States has had its own doping scandals, most notably in Major League Baseball and cycling. Perhaps we have heard so many disappointing stories of athletes cheating to win that any amazing sports performance now makes us ask whether the winner is a cheat.
Ye Shiwen is a phenomenal athlete with a body that is built for swimming. Due to her large hands and feet, her swimming style has been compared to a bug skittering across the water, creating much less drag than her competition. She's trained hard for years to make it to the Olympics and she is innocent until proven otherwise. Let's allow her to enjoy her well-deserved gold medals without tarnishing her reputation undeservedly.