There's no way that Michael Phelps could swim a 400 IM at Trials four weeks ago in 4:07.8 while not even fully peaked, and then, fully tapered, go a 4:09.2 in London unless something was organically wrong with him.
I vaguely remember reading recently that Phelps had his blood drawn by three different anti-doping agencies in one week. If each of them drew one decent-sized test tube's worth, that adds up to real reverse blood doping.
There are a lot of people who would pooh-pooh something like that. But in fact, for a finely tuned athlete who sleeps in a hyperbaric chamber in order to marginally increase his red blood cell count, and who works out in hopes of taking a gaining a slight edge in conditioning, the number of red blood corpuscles in your body does make a difference.
The different governing bodies in sport all supposedly conduct their tests randomly. But if all three happened to descend on Phelps in a short time frame right before the Olympics, that's just plain bad luck. And maybe bad coordination.
If that was in fact the case, expect to hear something about it from Bob Bowman, Phelps's histrionic coach, in the near future.
Of course, there's always an alternative explanation: maybe Phelps just isn't a big meet swimmer.
(By the way, we've seen an awful lot of Debbie Phelps over the past two Olympiads; I wish they had shown her face after the 400 IM.)
Speaking of finely tuned athletes, it seemed a big injustice that defending champion Taewhan Park was disqualified for no good reason during the heats of the 400 free this morning. He was reinstated after a review of the videotapes, but that process took several hours.
Meanwhile, Park was in shock. Even though he got to swim his event that evening, who knows how much he was affected by this. Did he warm down after the heats properly? Did he eat at the right time after his event? Did he digest his food as well as he would have had he felt more relaxed? Was he able to rest calmly and recuperate in the eight hours between heats and finals, or was he too distraught?
He ended up winning silver, which doesn't sound too bad. But he had been expected to engage in a close duel with China's Sun Yang, and when Yang began his last 100 sprint, Park had no answer. Would it have been different had he not gone through this turmoil?
We'll never know.
But we can make a pretty good guess.
In both of these cases -- with Phelps and Park -- it seems the officials played a role in the outcome.