Ágnes Kovács, Hungarian Olympic swimmer, is back in the news

Back in November (November 11, 2007) I spent a whole blog on the alleged doping case of Ágnes Kovács, a highly successful swimmer (100- and 200-meter breaststroke) who got an Olympic gold medal in Sydney, Australia, and has European and world titles as well. To summarize briefly, Kovács, who was described by one admiring fan today in KlubRádió’s Megbeszéljük! call-in show as a "national treasure," was unable to produce the necessary amount of urine at one of the random drug tests of the Hungarian Antidoping Group (MACS), the Hungarian arm of WADA (World Antidoping Association). Instead of waiting for a more opportune time after drinking some water, she left the scene because she had an important meeting with Roger Moore, the former movie and TV star. Three days later she swam at an international meet in Italy and won a gold in the 100 meter event.

The swimmer claims that the representatives of MACS wished her well and didn’t object to her refusal to be tested that day. Moreover, they–according to Kovács–assured her that all was well. MACS’s representatives remember the story quite differently. To make a long story short: the test was taken again eight days later and she was found clean. The Hungarian Swimming Association’s ethical committee found her not guilty and the international organization (Fédération Internationale de Natation) agreed. So it seemed that Kovács was off the hook.

As for her swimming career of late, she is no longer quite as good as she was six years ago (or even perhaps as she was two months ago). In most sports age does matter. In swimming this is definitely the case. A couple of weeks ago at a meet in Debrecen she didn’t manage to get a medal at all.

Today Ágnes Kovács announced that, although she isn’t retiring from her sport, she is no longer planning to be part of the Hungarian team that will go to the Peking Olympics. The reason she gave was the psychological stress that followed her "unfair treatment" by the Hungarian Antidoping Group. The president of the MÚSZ (Magyar Úszószövetség = Hungarian Swimming Association) announced that he understands Kovács’s decision but thinks that her reference to the doping case was unfortunate.