Van der Burgh calls for lifetime bans against serial dopers

In an exclusive interview with EWN, Van der Burgh has called on greater protection from FINA.

Double Olympic silver-medalist Cameron van der Burgh stands at a local university in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil after an interview with EWN following the 2016 Olympic Games. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

RIO DE JANEIRO - Olympic silver medalist Cameron van der Burgh has told EWN Sport that he and his fellow clean swimmers need greater protection by world swimming body FINA from drug cheats, and he's called for lifetime bans against serial offenders.

In an exclusive interview at the Rio Olympic Games, Van der Burgh, who won silver in the 100m breaststroke and gold at London 2012, says that he believes doping in swimming and sport at large is still rife. He says leniency shown by FINA highlights that not enough is being done to rid the sport of the problem that it has.

This comes after US swimmer Lilly King was backed by a number of others in her criticism of Russia's Yulia Efimova, who despite serving two bans for doping, was allowed to compete in Rio.

She won silver in the 100m and 200m breaststroke events.

Earlier this year serious allegations of state-sponsored doping by Russia saw the International Olympic Committee (IOC) mandate individual federations to decide if that country's participation at the Rio Games. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) banned all Russia's track and field athletes from the Olympics.

Van der Burgh, who's participated at three Olympics, says that despite the recent controversy, swimming authorities simply haven't sent a strong enough message.

"A lot of athletes feel that there should be a lot stronger implementation on bans and the seriousness thereof, even lifetime bans. I think that if somebody is a [first-time] offender then they generally do become a [repeat] offender, as we've seen in Yulia Efimova. The fact that somebody like her was allowed to participate in the Games is quite sad."

WATCH: Van der Burgh calls for greater protection by FINA from dopers

He says athletes need better protection.

"The fact that guys like that that have been repeat offenders, you can sometimes see after the race who gets tested and some of those guys don't even get retested in the actual event. One would think they'd be targeted. I definitely feel that they need to really tighten up on that implement a lot stronger forces on doping."

Van der Burgh says it's quite clearly still a problem not only for swimming but all sports.

"I haven't had any people ahead of me that have been on drugs but there have been one or two guys in my final, even who were offenders in previous years. It's obviously disheartening because you always think of the guys that came ninth, who could have been in the final. When you're in an Olympic final you can win a medal - Wayde [van Niekerk] was in lane 8 and our breaststroker that won the 200m was in lane."

He says to believe that sport is clean is simply is naïve.

" We would be very ignorant to think that there's no such thing as doping. I think especially when I started out swimming, I can't even remember too many guys being caught. Now I can count on my hands and my toes the amount of guys that have been caught and who've come back.

"It would definitely be ignorant to think there's no doping in swimming or in general sport. Any time that there's a lot of money involved guys go to desperate measures to win that."