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Diver in sync with clean play message

18 October 2006

He claimed Olympic bronze because of impeccable timing and yesterday synchronised diver Steven Barnett showed it again in the wake of cricket's international drug scandal.

Barnett labelled drug cheats as ''idiots'' who would be ''tainted for life'' during a one-hour presentation to more than 150 Erindale College students yesterday. Barnett's presentation, part of the Australian Olympic Committee's Live Clean Play Clean project, was given more significance yesterday as Pakistan cricketers Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif were sent home from the Champions Trophy in India after testing positive to the steroid nandrolone.

Barnett said he was shocked by Akhtar's positive test. ''I can't imagine what goes through his mind,'' Barnett said. ''Yesterday he was one of the fastest bowlers in the world and now he's a drug cheat.

Not just now, he's going to be a drug cheat for the rest of his life. I can't imagine why you'd take that risk. ''That's the question in my mind and I think the kids would look at that and some would think 'how do you know whether the good stuff in his career was without drugs?'.

 ''It's tainted. It's not just you it's your family. I wouldn't be able to face my family and friends, coaching and support staff ... all these people are pouring money into you to try and help you be better and you just throw it back in [their] face.' '

Yesterday's presentation included topics on inadvertent doping, drug testing procedures, banned-drugs lists, supplements and recreational drugs. Barnett said youth were now more aware of the drugs in sport crisis than when he attended ''boring'' lectures as a teenager. ''Walking in here today you could see it on their faces, 'oh no not another drug lecture'.

We try to make it a little bit fun,'' Barnett said.

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