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US sailing chief airs doping concern
Miles Godfrey
20:13 AEST Thu Jul 26 2012

America's Olympic sailing boss Dean Brenner says it would be naive to suggest his sport is immune from doping.

Olympic sailors have placed an increased emphasis on fitness in the run-up to the London Games, with most spending hours in the gym building hulking physiques capable of hauling ropes and pumping sails to gain extra speed.

Muscular bodies are more important in some sailing classes than others, but the evidence of the gym work some sailors have put in is clearly evident at the Olympic sailing venue in Weymouth, southwest England.

The American sailing team on Thursday highlighted the massive focus they've placed on fitness since 2008, with Finn competitor Zach Railey saying he's put on 18kg to cope with conditions at the Olympic venue in Weymouth, southwest England.

Brenner, US Sailing's director, says he's not heard of any instances of doping - but suggested it would be naive to think it won't happen in the future.

"There are systems in place and we trust the systems but like every other sport fitness is becoming increasingly important in sailing and I think the importance curve has got very, very steep," he told AAP.

"It's changed very, very quickly and our sport is dramatically different to what it was certainly eight years ago, 12 years ago.

"I don't know of anything in our sport yet but, you know, you'd be naive to suggest it'll never come."

Australian women's 470 dinghy sailor Belinda Stowell said she believes the sport is clean - but acknowledged that some competitors may "feel they can get an edge".

"The best statistic I've ever heard was when there was a lot of things uncovered from the former days in the 1970s when drugs in many sports was rife," the Athens gold medallist told AAP.

"Apparently one of the reports that came back from East Germany was that they administered drugs in every sport except sailing because they felt that it didn't help.

"And obviously there are some people who will feel they can get an edge because the sport of sailing is much more athletic now."

She said the strongest drug most sailors take is caffeine, to keep them alert during long days out at sea.

"Sailors also have to be really sharp; it's a decision game," she added.

"People like to have a bit of caffeine, but that's not banned.

"People just really enjoy their coffees and their Cokes."

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