FUKUOKA, Japan (AP) Cristina Teuscher, the No. 2 swimmer on the U.S. 800-meter freestyle relay team that was disqualified at the World Swimming Championships, insists officials made a mistake.
She was accused by FINA referees of leaving the blocks a fraction too soon, before teammate Natalie Coughlin had hit the touchpad on the wall. That, by swimming rules, is the cue for the next swimmer to leave the blocks.
Teuscher, of New Rochelle, N.Y., said the Americans deserved the gold after first-place finisher Australia was disqualified.
“Our people looked at the tapes, and it was clear that when Natalie touched, my feet were still on the block,” Teuscher said yesterday after swimming a semifinal of the 200-meter individual medley.
The Australians were disqualified for jumping into the pool to celebrate the win before the last-place Italian swimmer had finished.
U.S. team management argued that the automatic timing wasn’t working when the disqualification took place.
The Americans were reinstated Wednesday after referees said the change was too close to call if the timing equipment wasn’t working. But yesterday, that decision was reversed, and the Americans were dropped again.
The U.S. team appealed again to FINA to review the videotape. If the decision still goes against the Americans, team manager Dennis Pursley has threatened to take the case to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.
He said he had evidence that the timing equipment was faulty, adding that he thought it was strange that FINA would replace the touchpad device despite issuing a statement saying it disqualified the Americans because the automatic timing system “worked perfectly.”
Britain, which finished a distant third, was elevated to gold. Germany and Japan took silver and bronze.
Teuscher was upset.
“This sport isn’t supposed to be political,” she said. “The clock isn’t supposed to lie. That’s one of the reasons that I went into swimming in the first place, and when something like this happens it can make you cynical.”