BARCELONA, Spain -- Maybe Jenny Thompson, America's 19-year-old swimming star, really wasn't spooked by starting Friday's 50-meter freestyle on the blocks between two Chinese swimmers.
Maybe her teammate, Angel Martino, really meant it when she said, "All the countries here are swimming well, not just the Chinese."
But it's doubtful.
On Friday, China's Wenyi Yang and Yong Zhuang went 1-2 in the 50 freestyle, giving their country's women's team five gold and ,, four silver medals. Wenyi set a world record of 24.79 seconds, and Yong was a tenth of a second off the old record.
Actually, Thompson and Martino probably understand what was rumored in the Olympic swimming competition that concluded Friday: China has picked up where East Germany left off.
"No question, they are bringing their swimmers along the same way [East Germany] did," said New Zealand coach Don Talbot.
China hadn't won a swimming medal before 1988, when its women won three silvers and a bronze. Yong's victory over Thompson was China's first gold. Li Lin then won the 200 individual medley and Hong Quan took the 100 butterfly.
There are least two former East German coaches working in China, and many who compete against the Chinese are convinced that their swimmers are using performance-enhancing drugs. Many, however, won't say so publicly.
Meanwhile, no Chinese swimmer has ever tested positive, and they are sick of the rumors.
"Li Lin has never been coached by an East German," said her coach, Xiong Zhang. "I have been her coach since she was small. . . . It's completely meaningless to mention something like that in a big meet."