Grant Hackett with former coach Dennis Cotterell. Picture Gregg Porteous
Grant Hackett with former coach Dennis Cotterell. Picture Gregg Porteous

Hackett: Don’t compare me to Sun

GRANT Hackett has hit back at the claim made by his former mentor, Denis Cotterell, that he and the Chinese alleged drug cheat Sun Yang are "as clean as each other".

The dual Olympic 1500m freestyle gold medallist was taken aback by Cotterell's comment in The Australian on Thursday that Sun was as clean as Hackett had ever been during his career.

"I would probably call myself cleaner than Sun, absolutely, I've never failed a drug test, I've even had five drug tests in three days once … and I've never had a single issue; my track record in comparison to Sun's is very different," Hackett told Sydney's 2GB radio station on Thursday.

"I certainly wouldn't compare myself to Sun at any point in time. I wouldn't make a direct comparison to anything that relates to­ ­performance-enhancing drugs (between me and Sun)."

Hackett was careful to point out that while he did not question Cotterell's genuine belief that the Chinese star was clean,it was impossible for his former coach to know for sure.

"Well, you're never going to get the full picture on anything," Hackett said. "Parents don't know what their kids get up to and they live in the same household.

"So Denis is never going to be privy to 100 per cent of what's going on. He's more in a consultancy role. (People) think the guy is there 10 hours a day and attending every doctor's appointment and every physio appointment and every massage appointment and being across every bit of detail. It just doesn't work like that." That was pretty much how it was in Hackett's life, with Cotterell taking very much a hands-on ­approach to his performance, both in and out of the pool.

With Sun, however, he operates more as an adviser.

England's world breaststroke champion Adam Peaty also rejected Cotterell's defence of Sun, saying he would not have smashed the blood sample vials unless he had something to hide.

 

Grant Hackett with former coach Dennis Cotterell. Picture Gregg Porteous
Grant Hackett with former coach Dennis Cotterell. Picture Gregg Porteous

Asked to respond to Cotterell's suggestion that Sun was being unfairly categorised as a drug cheat, Peaty said: "He's not. A fire doesn't start without tinder or without starting the flame and that comes from somewhere.

"He's clearly guilty. Let's say there was no problem before he smashed the vial. He still smashed the vial. That says it all. If you're guilty, you do not run.

"There's also the DCO (doping control officer) to consider. That's pretty frightening if someone brings out a hammer. This is sport; it's not a war. I feel very sorry for them (the officer). Has your mum ever been in the doping room? (Sun's mother apparently gave the order for the vial to be destroyed.)

"That's the thing, she stays away from it and that's normal. I mean, walking in with a hammer."

Hackett is convinced that the protests staged by Mack Horton of Australia and Duncan Scott of Scotland at the world championships here this week are more aimed at FINA, the sport's governing body, than they are at Sun.

"Where the protests actually come from is the fact that the swimmers feel the system is actually letting them down, the doping authorities, whether it's the governing bodies, penalties and punishments are inconsistent.

 

"When you see (Australian swimmer) Thomas Fraser-Holmes get banned for a year (for missing three drugs tests over the space of 12 months) while Sun had a positive test and got three months but nobody knew about it. There is no transparency there, so it's automatically going to create suspicion. And even Denis has to appreciate that. The issue now with the blood vials being broken (with a hammer), of course it's going to create suspicion.

"So I get why people are frustrated and why they feel like bans or penalties aren't consistent across the board and then somewhat of a double standard.

"So I feel like this is bigger than Sun, or Mack and Duncan standing there and protesting, I think this is a message to thewider body of the sport that, hey, we want a clean sport and we want to know you're (going to be) doing more about it thanwhat you're doing right now."

ADDITIONAL REPORTING: SASCHA O'SULLIVAN