JULY 31: Shiwen Ye of China looks on after winning gold in the Women's 200m Individual Medley final on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre on July 31, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
LONDON - The doping suspicions surrounding Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen aren't going away anytime soon - and that's a good and a bad thing.
It's good because it means the 16-year-old is winning more and more medals in these Games. Her latest? The women's 200-meter individual medley, which she won Tuesday night in 2:07.57, an Olympic record. The performance comes on the heels of her women's 400 individual medley gold Saturday, in which she set a world record of 4:28.43. She dropped five seconds off her previous personal best, which she swam at 14.
More gold, though, brought more doping suspicions. The 400 IM raised eyebrows because she swam her final 50 meters of freestyle faster than the men's 400 IM gold medalist, Ryan Lochte, did. Ye has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
The suspicions have arisen largely because of Chinese swimming's tainted past.
"People who are reacting (negatively to Ye) went through the '90s when there definitely was an issue, and it was proven," U.S. coach Bob Bowman said. "So that's something the (Chinese) are going to have to overcome."
Bowman said the suspicions were taking away from what otherwise would be a dazzling young swimmer taking over the Games.
Ye defended herself Tuesday, calling the attacks "a little unfair." A news reporter asked her if she agreed with China's anti-doping chief, who said that critics were biased and raising doubts about Ye simply because she was Chinese.
"I also feel the same way," Ye said. "How come they criticize me just because I have multiple medals?"
Olympic organizers also came to Ye's defense Tuesday.
"We need to get real," International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said Tuesday. "These are the world's best athletes. The first five athletes (who place in competitions) are tested. We have a very strong drug testing program. If there are cheats, we will catch them. ... We can't stop speculation. It is a sad result that there are people who dope and cheat. It is equally sad if we can't applaud a great performance."
The women Ye beat to win gold have given her plenty of applause.
"I'd like to congratulate Ye because she's having just an awesome meet so far and let people know it's a tremendous accomplishment," said bronze medalist Caitlin Leverenz of the USA. "She's proven that it is possible (for a female to top male times). It's easy for people to point fingers, but you can just as easily point fingers at any of the other amazing races we've had so far. It's not my place to point fingers at anyone's performance."
By Nicole Auerbach