Ace Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe believes that he will never fully regain his squeaky-clean reputation after his alleged involvement in a drug sample controversy earlier this year. Speaking publicly for the first time since being cleared earlier this month by world swimming governing body FINA - two months after the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) said he had no case to answer - Thorpe today said he was relieved the ordeal was behind him.
"I was glad when it was over but, you know, it's not really over yet and it never will be. My name is forever tarnished, more so overseas than what it is here, and that's something that I continue to have to deal with," news.com.au quoted Australia's most successful Olympian, as saying.
In March this year, a French newspaper was given details of a drug sample he returned last year that showed abnormal levels of naturally occurring substances testosterone and leutenising hormone.
Asked if he could ever restore his reputation 100 per cent, Thorpe said: "No, you can't. It's not possible". The five-time Olympic gold medallist said he hadn't ruled out taking legal action to identify the person who leaked the confidential information to the French newspaper that led to his public ordeal while the matter was still being investigated by ASADA.
"Anything's a possibility. I've got to think what's right and what's morally right for me," said 25-year-old Thorpe, who quit competitive swimming this year, citing a lack of motivation.
Thorpe expressed sadness about not preparing for the 2008 Games in Beijing. "I'd love to be training for it and I'd love to be racing at it - but that's it. I don't want everything else that comes with it," Thorpe said.
"I'm glad within what I'm doing now and I'm excited by that. I'm happy with where my life is at the moment and I wouldn't change it for anything," he added. Thorpe said he was enjoying doing "a lot of television, a lot of business in Asia" since putting away the goggles.
"I'm trying to wind down towards the end of the year, but it seems to be winding up," he said. Thorpe was speaking at the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre during his first inspection of the pool named in his honour since the completion of the impressive Harry Seidler-designed facility in central Sydney.
"If I have a legacy in this sport, it's for kids to get the most out of sport, whatever sport it is, so that they can lead a healthier lifestyle in and around sport. This facility itself allows that to happen. It gives people a great place to be able to train and be able to learn how to swim and that's important," he said.