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Newz Forum: OTHER: Fertility risk for female swimmers: coach

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posted on Feb, 14 2005 @ 04:17 PM
Australian swimming coach Tracey Menzies has accused some coaches of playing 'Russian roulette' with the fertility of their female athletes.

Speaking on the ABC's Australian Story program, Menzies said the 'win at all costs' attitude used by some coaches could interrupt the menstrual cycles of some athletes and affect their fertility.

Currently the coach of Olympic champion Ian Thorpe, Menzies claimed some female athletes still had not started their periods by the age of 18, and warned that some coaches were ignoring this problem.

"Menstrual cycles reflect how the body actually functions and if you're not getting periods that is a dangerous thing," she said.

"As coaches we're liable for the fact that if we're pushing their body to the edge we've got to be held accountable for what we've actually put these athletes through.

"Long term, what I want for my female athletes is when they leave the sport (to) be able to have children."

Menzies revealed to Australian Story about her own health battles during her swimming career, which took her to national age titles through her teenage years.

She said an unhealthy obsession with her weight, partly as a result of her squad's twice weekly weigh-in sessions, left her in danger of not being able to have children herself.

As a swimmer, Menzies was desperate to avoid putting on weight, to the extent that she almost starving herself.

"I was lying to my family. I was doing extra training when people weren't around," she told the program.

"When I was carrying the weight I wasn't good enough and then when I lost the weight, I was starting to get praise-that was something I hadn't had for months I was someone of importance again in that squad."

She confirmed the obsession to lose weight was not driven by her coach Doug Frost - who also coached Thorpe in his early years - but came from within.

Menzies has recently been told she and husband Jason Stegbauer should be able to start a family. "I've been given more or less the green light to say that can go ahead.

"That was something that I never thought would actually happen, so for me that was probably a gold medal in itself."


Inside Sport


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