Ireland’s most successful Games in terms of gold medals was the 1996 Atlanta Games. In retrospect, it has also proved to be the most controversial.
Michelle Smith won three golds and a bronze in the pool. She secured gold in the 400m freestyle, 200m individual medley and 400m individual medley. She won bronze in the 200m butterfly.
Smith’s performances in Atlanta raised eyebrows, with commentators and athletes suggesting that her greatly improved medal-winning performances suggested foul play.
The fact that no Irish swimmer had ever won a medal at the Olympics, prior to Smith’s success, further raised suspicions. To add to these suspicions, her husband Erik De Bruin had failed a drugs test in 1993 and had been suspended from competition.
Smith received a four-year suspension by FINA in 1998 after being found guilty of tampering with a urine sample. A routine urine sample was found to have been contaminated with alcohol.
Smith has never been stripped of her Olympic medals.
Written by: Tadhg Peavoy
Edited by: Tom Hunt