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Peirsol: Kitajima used illegal kick

ATHENS, Greece -- American backstroker Aaron Peirsol accused
Kosuke Kitajima of using an illegal dolphin kick at the start of
the Olympic 100-meter breaststroke Sunday night that helped propel
the Japanese star to a gold medal.

"He knew what he was doing. It's cheating," said Peirsol, who
spoke out after watching teammate and world record-holder Brendan
Hansen finish second.

"I have no response on that," Kitajima said through a
translator.

Kitajima's time of 1 minute, 0.08 seconds was 17-hundredths of a
second better than Hansen, who took the silver in 1:00.25.

The United States, however, cannot appeal the result.

"You can't appeal a judgment call," U.S. men's coach Eddie
Reese said. "The race is over. No whistle, no foul."

Peirsol claimed Kitajima enjoyed a two-tenths of a second
advantage because of his starting kick.

"Something needs to be done about that," he said. "It's just
ridiculous."

According to Peirsol, Kitajima dove in, streamed to the surface
and did a dolphin kick. The rules require only a breaststroke-type
kick be used in the race.

"You take a huge dolphin kick and that gives you that extra
momentum, but he knows that you can't see that from underwater,"
Peirsol said.

"He definitely did a dolphin kick," said American Jason Lezak,
who watched the race.

Judges are positioned on the pool deck and don't have access to
views from underwater cameras that are shown to television viewers
and the crowd on a large screen in the stadium.

"There's nothing about the race I actually remember," Kitajima
said. "I got in and did the best I could. I just remember when I
finished and I won, I was as happy as I've ever been."

Asked if he had ever done a dolphin kick in a breaststroke race,
Kitajima responded, "There's nothing I have to say."

Norimasa Hirai, Kitajima's coach, said the swimmer never uses a
dolphin kick.

Koji Ueno, the head Japanese coach, dismissed Peirsol's
accusation and said he was satisfied with Kitajima's performance.

Hansen, Peirsol and Lezak said Kitajima's first kick was an
issue at last summer's world championships in Barcelona, Spain,
where he defeated Hansen in the 100 breaststroke.

"He's got a history of that, and pay attention to it," Peirsol
said.

Lezak said he twice watched Kitajima's race last summer.

"I just remember the whole crowd doing a little 'aah' when they
saw it and then they took it off the camera real quick once they
knew that what he did was wrong,'' Lezak said. "This time, they
didn't show the replay, but in live time, it was just real
obvious."

Hansen, however, downplayed Peirsol's accusation while sitting
next to Kitajima at the medalists' news conference.

"It would be a big deal for an official to come out and to
disqualify somebody," Hansen said. "I can only account for my
actions and I know exactly what I did in my race. Everything else,
I hope the officials who are sitting right next to me will take
care of that.

"They are not there to have a front row seat and watch the
Olympic Games," he added. "They're there to take care of the
rules. I believe that's what they do."

Hansen said he appreciated Peirsol's support, but blamed himself
for swimming slower than he did at last month's U.S. trials, where
he took the world record away from Kitajima.

"I don't agree with his actions because the U.S. is very
diplomatic on these sorts of things," he said of Piersol. "He was
a little fired up and he was protecting his teammate, that's all."

Hansen was first at 50 meters and Kitajima was third. The
Japanese overtook Hansen coming off the turn.

"I didn't swim my race, I swam his. That's exactly what he
wanted me to do," Hansen said. "It's a little bit of a rookie
mistake, but it's understandable when it's my first Olympic Games.
I was looking over -- I could see out of my peripheral vision the
whole time. I shouldn't even be worrying about it."

Hansen and Kitajima will race again in the 200 breaststroke
preliminaries Tuesday.

"This is a race that can either break you or make you, and I
guarantee you it's going to make me in two days," Hansen said.