Olympic swimmer: I’d rather lose than take drugs

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Olympic gold medalist Chad le Clos “would rather lose” than use banned substances to beat competition in the swimming pool.

Doping scandals are common in the sporting world where athletes at the top of their game are rewarded richly at global competitions. Often coupled to a winning streak are a host of sponsors lining up to endorse sports stars.

Le Clos is no different. He has a few sponsors already and this month became the brand ambassador for GNC, an American producer of health supplements.

The 21-year-old swimmer said his deal with the company includes using their “vitamin pack to keep healthy and fresh”.

Chad le Clos jokes with his father Bert le Clos. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Chad le Clos jokes with his father Bert le Clos. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

“I just need stuff to help me recover. I don’t need much else,” said Le Clos.

“With swimming, you train all the time. I train everyday. You take supplements to build muscle so you can recover for the next day.”

His father Bert le Clos said they consulted the young athlete’s coach about GNC’s products. Le Clos also asked his doctor about using supplements and he “tells me what I can take and what I can’t”.

Bert le Clos said his son needed more than three meals a day to recover from all the training he puts his body through.

“If you’re training five to seven hours a day, you have to put something back into your body. If you’re eating steak, that’s not enough. These are super athletes and they are taking out so much from their bodies,” he said.

“You have to take some kind of vitamin. You take two or three tablets that are safe. I cook all his meals three times a day. I come from Mauritius so I cook steaks and curries.”

He added: “Chad has bigger goals than cash rewards. He wants to win rather than end up with money.”

The swimmer said he would steer clear of banned substances because “swimming is one of the cleanest sports in the world”.

“I get drug tested at least two or three times a month. And it’s random,” he said.

“Three weeks ago, on a Friday afternoon, I got drug tested. I was on my way out to dinner and I was tested in my driveway. The next morning I got tested again. You’ll get caught,” he said.

He added: “I don’t know how people can live with themselves by using banned substances. I don’t know how they can call themselves a champion. I’d rather lose.”

“I believe to be a champion, you have to train. You have to be dedicated and focused on yourself. You can’t allow other things to change you.”

Le Clos has a busy sporting year ahead. He aims to take home a number of gold medals from the Commonwealth Games to be held in Scotland in July.

“I want to be more than just the guy who beat (American Olympian swimmer) Michael Phelps (at the Olympic Games in 2012)… You have to have a place in history. I want to keep taking it to new heights. I want to make history,” said le Clos.

Sean Kristafor, general manager for GNC in South Africa, said their products are “approved by the World Anti-Doping Agency and an organisation called Informed Choice”.

The Durban-based Le Clos also plans to this year release his co-written autobiography Unbelievable!

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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