The former two-time world champion in the 100m freestyle (2005 and 2007) Filippo Magnini has been suspended for four years for use or attempted use of doping substances by Italian anti-doping authorities. Today retired and 36 years old, the former swimmer cries out and said he was going to appeal. Alain Bernard (35), the 2008 Olympic distance champion, agreed to answer our questions about his former rival.
What is your feeling at the announcement of Filippo Magnini's suspension?
ALAIN BERNARD. You teach me that. My first reaction is to think of this newspaper article that I always carry with me when I lecture. It's a 2008 Magnini interview that says about me: "He had to find the right pills." Which clearly meant that I was doped. So frankly, this suspension makes me laugh. Looks like he had the right pills then. In any case, this suspension necessarily comes too late, since it has retired. If he cheated, the damage is already done.
That is to say ?
I do not think I was stolen. But it's terrible if some people were to learn today that they were entitled to a medal. It happened to a Frenchman, Christophe Lebon, at the 2008 European Championships in Eindhoven. He finished fourth on the 200 butterfly. Fifteen days later, the winner was downgraded. And Christophe ended up receiving his bronze medal later, alone at the edge of a pool. But that did not mean anything anymore. He had been deprived of the joy of the podium.
Can the image of swimming be soiled by Magnini's suspension?
Our sport is relatively clean, I think it deeply. There are some drifts, but they remain at the margin. What annoys me in this story is that it comes a little late. As if Italian leaders had managed to hide this case for a long time. But hey, the good news is that we finally get to catch the cheaters. In any case, it's good that we hunt cheats. Me, we can come and get me, I'm serene. I kept all the doping control sheets that I signed all my career. I have sixty that proves that I am clean.