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Swimming at the 1972 München Summer Games:

Men's 400 metres Freestyle

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Host City: München, West Germany
Venue(s): Swimming Hall, Olympic Park, München
Date Started: September 1, 1972
Date Finished: September 1, 1972

Gold: AUS Brad Cooper
Silver: USA Steve Genter
Bronze: USA Tom McBreen

Summary

The world record had been set by Kurt Krumpholz of the USA at a meet in Chicago in August 1972, but he had not made the US Olympic team. Krumpholz broke the record set by [Brad Cooper] at the Australian Olympic Trials in February 1972. Cooper was favored, along with young American Rick DeMont, who had won the US Olympic Trials, and was competing in Munich in both the 400 and 1,500. Also highly considered was Steve Genter, silver medalist in the 200 free, who had recovered from a collapsed lung in Munich to win that silver.

In the final Cooper took the lead through 200 metres, followed by Genter and American Tom McBreen, with DeMont a body length back in fourth place. But by 300 metres DeMont had moved up to Cooper’s shoulder, and caught him just before the final turn. Over the last lap there was nothing to choose and it was unclear who had won the race, but the electric timers have it to DeMont by 1/100th of a second – 4:00.26 to 4:00.27.

Or so it seemed. Two days later, DeMont swam his preliminary round heat in the 1,500 and qualified for the final of that event. And then came the news that he had tested positive for a banned substance and was disqualified from the 400 freestyle, and the 1,500 metres. Unlike many athletes who test positive, DeMont did not deny that he had taken Marax the night before his 400 metre races, but the reason was that Rick DeMont was an asthmatic and he regularly took Marax, and ephedrine derivative, to help control wheezing. When he had an attack in the Olympic Village he took a pill between 0100 and 0200 and took another pill the next morning. DeMont never hid the fact that he took the drug on a regular basis for his asthma, and had noted this on his medical form required of US athletes, but the United States’ team doctors had never checked to see if it contained any banned substances. Despite protests by United States officials, Rick DeMont was disqualified and Brad Cooper declared the winner of the 400 freestyle. When told of the final decision in Munich, Cooper said, “I don’t want the medal.”

In 1996 DeMont sued the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) for having mishandled his situation in Munich. Among other things, it was alleged that the IOC offered to exonerate DeMont and led him keep the gold medal if the USOC would have the US team doctors accept responsibility for the error, but the USOC refused. In 2001 the USOC finally accepted responsibility and asked the IOC to restore DeMont’s gold medal but the IOC would not do so.

In 1973 Rick DeMont went to Belgrade, Yugoslavia for the 1st World Aquatics Championships. In the final of the 400 metre freestyle, he defeated Brad Cooper, breaking the world record and becoming the first swimmer to better four minutes for the 400 free, recording 3:58.18. He also won silver there in the 1,500. DeMont later became a swim coach at the University of Arizona and an accomplished artist.

Brad Cooper had a superb career, which has been marred by the controversy surrounding his Munich 400 gold medal. He won 18 Australian Championships, and at the 1972 World Aquatics Championships won silver behind DeMont in the 400 and a bronze in the 1,500. He competed in the 1974 Commonwealth Games, winning a gold in the 200 backstroke, silver in the 400 free, and a bronze in the 100 back, and then retired.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 Brad Cooper 18 Australia AUS Gold OR
2 Steve Genter 21 United States USA Silver
3 Tom McBreen 19 United States USA Bronze
4 Graham Windeatt 18 Australia AUS
5 Brian Brinkley 18 Great Britain GBR
6 Bengt Gingsjö 20 Sweden SWE
7 Werner Lampe 21 West Germany FRG
AC r2/2 Rick DeMont 16 United States USA DQ
1 h1 r1/2 Gunnar Larsson 21 Sweden SWE
2 h1 r1/2 Ton van Klooster 18 Netherlands NED
2 h2 r1/2 Hans Faßnacht 21 West Germany FRG
2 h3 r1/2 Anders Bellbring 20 Sweden SWE
2 h5 r1/2 Gerardo Vera 17 Venezuela VEN
3 h1 r1/2 Guillermo García 16 Mexico MEX
3 h2 r1/2 Udo Poser 25 East Germany GDR
3 h3 r1/2 Aleksandr Samsonov 19 Soviet Union URS
3 h4 r1/2 Ralph Hutton 24 Canada CAN
3 h5 r1/2 Jorge Delgado, Jr. 18 Ecuador ECU
3 h6 r1/2 Graham White 21 Australia AUS
4 h1 r1/2 Alain Charmey 20 Switzerland SUI
4 h2 r1/2 Peter Rosenkranz 19 West Germany FRG
4 h3 r1/2 Wolfram Sperling 19 East Germany GDR
4 h4 r1/2 Władysław Wojtakajtis 23 Poland POL
4 h5 r1/2 Mark Treffers 18 New Zealand NZL
4 h6 r1/2 Ron Jacks 24 Canada CAN
5 h1 r1/2 Bruce Robertson 19 Canada CAN
5 h2 r1/2 Tomas Becerra 18 Colombia COL
5 h3 r1/2 Sverre Kile 19 Norway NOR
5 h4 r1/2 Alfredo Carlos Machado 19 Brazil BRA
5 h5 r1/2 Antonio Corell 22 Spain ESP
5 h6 r1/2 Viktor Aboimov 22 Soviet Union URS
6 h1 r1/2 Neil Dexter 17 Great Britain GBR
6 h2 r1/2 Dae Imlani 18 Philippines PHI
6 h3 r1/2 José Luis Prado 15 Mexico MEX
6 h4 r1/2 Arnaldo Cinquetti 18 Italy ITA
6 h5 r1/2 Jo O-Ryeon 19 South Korea KOR
6 h6 r1/2 Klaus Dockhorn 19 East Germany GDR
7 h1 r1/2 Kamal Kenawi Ali Moustafa 16 Egypt EGY
7 h2 r1/2 Dimitrios Theodoropoulos 17 Greece GRE
7 h3 r1/2 Friðrik Guðmundsson 17 Iceland ISL
7 h4 r1/2 Gustavo González 19 Argentina ARG
7 h6 r1/2 Guillermo Pacheco 17 Peru PER
8 h6 r1/2 François Deley 16 Belgium BEL