| Event type

400 metres Freestyle, Men

Date 1 September 1972
LocationSchwimmhalle, Olympiapark, München
Participants43 from 28 countries
Olympic Record 4:09.0 / Mike Burton USA / 23 October 1968

The world record had been set by Kurt Krumpholz of the USA at a meet in Chicago in August 1972, but he had not made the US Olympic team. Krumpholz broke the record set by Brad Cooper at the Australian Olympic Trials in February 1972. Cooper was favored, along with young American Rick DeMont, who had won the US Olympic Trials, and was competing in Munich in both the 400 and 1,500. Also highly considered was Steve Genter, silver medalist in the 200 free, who had recovered from a collapsed lung in Munich to win that silver.

In the final Cooper took the lead through 200 metres, followed by Genter and American Tom McBreen, with DeMont a body length back in fourth place. But by 300 metres DeMont had moved up to Cooper’s shoulder, and caught him just before the final turn. Over the last lap there was nothing to choose and it was unclear who had won the race, but the electric timers have it to DeMont by 1/100th of a second – 4:00.26 to 4:00.27.

Or so it seemed. Two days later, DeMont swam his preliminary round heat in the 1,500 and qualified for the final of that event. And then came the news that he had tested positive for a banned substance and was disqualified from the 400 freestyle, and the 1,500 metres. Unlike many athletes who test positive, DeMont did not deny that he had taken Marax the night before his 400 metre races, but the reason was that Rick DeMont was an asthmatic and he regularly took Marax, and ephedrine derivative, to help control wheezing. When he had an attack in the Olympic Village he took a pill between 0100 and 0200 and took another pill the next morning. DeMont never hid the fact that he took the drug on a regular basis for his asthma, and had noted this on his medical form required of US athletes, but the United States’ team doctors had never checked to see if it contained any banned substances. Despite protests by United States officials, Rick DeMont was disqualified and Brad Cooper declared the winner of the 400 freestyle. When told of the final decision in Munich, Cooper said, “I don’t want the medal.”

In 1996 DeMont sued the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) for having mishandled his situation in Munich. Among other things, it was alleged that the IOC offered to exonerate DeMont and led him keep the gold medal if the USOC would have the US team doctors accept responsibility for the error, but the USOC refused. In 2001 the USOC finally accepted responsibility and asked the IOC to restore DeMont’s gold medal but the IOC would not do so.

In 1973 Rick DeMont went to Belgrade, Yugoslavia for the 1st World Aquatics Championships. In the final of the 400 metre freestyle, he defeated Brad Cooper, breaking the world record and becoming the first swimmer to better four minutes for the 400 free, recording 3:58.18. He also won silver there in the 1,500. DeMont later became a swim coach at the University of Arizona and an accomplished artist.

Brad Cooper had a superb career, which has been marred by the controversy surrounding his Munich 400 gold medal. He won 18 Australian Championships, and at the 1972 World Aquatics Championships won silver behind DeMont in the 400 and a bronze in the 1,500. He competed in the 1974 Commonwealth Games, winning a gold in the 200 backstroke, silver in the 400 free, and a bronze in the 100 back, and then retired.

Steve Genter swam in Munich despite suffering collapsed lungs on first arriving in Germany and spending several days in the hospital, where he had to have thorax drained of fluid and air. He had already won silver in the 200 free and gold in the 4x200 relay by the time the 400 metre freestyle started. He finished third in the original race, and technically is listed as a silver medalist in the event, after the disqualification of DeMont. However, Genter thought that disqualification was unjust and never returned his bronze medal nor accepted a silver medal for the 400 metre freestyle.

1Brad CooperAUS4:04.59 (1 h4)4:00.27 (1)Gold
2Steve GenterUSA4:05.89 (1 h3)4:01.94 (2)Silver
3Tom McBreenUSA4:06.09 (1 h6)4:02.64 (3)Bronze
4Graham WindeattAUS4:05.92 (1 h5)4:02.93 (4)
5Brian BrinkleyGBR4:06.44 (2 h6)4:06.69 (5)
6Bengt GingsjöSWE4:06.59 (1 h2)4:06.75 (6)
7Werner LampeFRG4:04.80 (2 h4)4:06.97 (7)
8Graham WhiteAUS4:08.29 (3 h6)
9Anders BellbringSWE4:08.38 (2 h3)
10Hans FaßnachtFRG4:09.23 (2 h2)
11Ralph HuttonCAN4:09.27 (3 h4)
12Udo PoserGDR4:09.62 (3 h2)
13Gunnar LarssonSWE4:09.88 (1 h1)
14Gerardo VeraVEN4:11.37 (2 h5)
15Aleksandr SamsonovURS4:11.46 (3 h3)
16Ton van KloosterNED4:11.72 (2 h1)
17Jorge Delgado, Jr.ECU4:12.29 (3 h5)
18Peter RosenkranzFRG4:14.01 (4 h2)
19Mark TreffersNZL4:14.10 (4 h5)
20Wolfram SperlingGDR4:14.73 (4 h3)
21Guillermo GarcíaMEX4:15.33 (3 h1)
22Władysław WojtakajtisPOL4:16.04 (4 h4)
23Ron JacksCAN4:16.08 (4 h6)
24Viktor AboimovURS4:17.04 (5 h6)
25Antonio CorellESP4:17.81 (5 h5)
26Klaus DockhornGDR4:17.98 (6 h6)
27 FedolaBRA4:18.05 (5 h4)
28Alain CharmeySUI4:18.25 (4 h1)
29Guillermo PachecoPER4:18.78 (7 h6)
30Arnaldo CinquettiITA4:19.49 (6 h4)
31Bruce RobertsonCAN4:20.31 (5 h1)
32Tomás BecerraCOL4:20.78 (5 h2)
33Sverre KileNOR4:20.86 (5 h3)
34Gustavo GonzálezARG4:21.22 (7 h4)
35Jo O-RyeonKOR4:21.78 (6 h5)
36José Luis PradoMEX4:22.31 (6 h3)
37Dae ImlaniPHI4:24.01 (6 h2)
38François DeleyBEL4:24.73 (8 h6)
39Neil DexterGBR4:24.80 (6 h1)
40Ali Moustafa KenawiEGY4:24.97 (7 h1)
41Friðrik GuðmundssonISL4:26.25 (7 h3)
42Dimitrios TheodoropoulosGRE4:30.54 (7 h2)
ACRick DeMontUSA4:05.70 (AC h5)4:00.26 (AC)DQ1
DNSIstván MolnarHUN– (DNS h5)
DNSAndrew YoungRHO

Round One (1 September 1972 — 10:50)

Fastest eight advanced to the final.

Heat One

1Gunnar LarssonSWE4:09.88
2Ton van KloosterNED4:11.72
3Guillermo GarcíaMEX4:15.33
4Alain CharmeySUI4:18.25
5Bruce RobertsonCAN4:20.31
6Neil DexterGBR4:24.80
7Ali Moustafa KenawiEGY4:24.97

Heat Two

1Bengt GingsjöSWE4:06.59QOR
2Hans FaßnachtFRG4:09.23
3Udo PoserGDR4:09.62
4Peter RosenkranzFRG4:14.01
5Tomás BecerraCOL4:20.78
6Dae ImlaniPHI4:24.01
7Dimitrios TheodoropoulosGRE4:30.54

Heat Three

1Steve GenterUSA4:05.89QOR
2Anders BellbringSWE4:08.38
3Aleksandr SamsonovURS4:11.46
4Wolfram SperlingGDR4:14.73
5Sverre KileNOR4:20.86
6José Luis PradoMEX4:22.31
7Friðrik GuðmundssonISL4:26.25

Heat Four

1Brad CooperAUS4:04.59QOR
2Werner LampeFRG4:04.80Q
3Ralph HuttonCAN4:09.27
4Władysław WojtakajtisPOL4:16.04
5 FedolaBRA4:18.05
6Arnaldo CinquettiITA4:19.49
7Gustavo GonzálezARG4:21.22

Heat Five

1Graham WindeattAUS4:05.92
2Gerardo VeraVEN4:11.37
3Jorge Delgado, Jr.ECU4:12.29
4Mark TreffersNZL4:14.10
5Antonio CorellESP4:17.81
6Jo O-RyeonKOR4:21.78
ACRick DeMontUSA4:05.70DQ2
DNSIstván MolnarHUN

Heat Six

1Tom McBreenUSA4:06.09Q
2Brian BrinkleyGBR4:06.44Q
3Graham WhiteAUS4:08.29
4Ron JacksCAN4:16.08
5Viktor AboimovURS4:17.04
6Klaus DockhornGDR4:17.98
7Guillermo PachecoPER4:18.78
8François DeleyBEL4:24.73

Final (1 September 1972 — 18:20)

14Brad CooperAUS4:00.27OR
26Steve GenterUSA4:01.94
37Tom McBreenUSA4:02.64
42Graham WindeattAUS4:02.93
51Brian BrinkleyGBR4:06.69
68Bengt GingsjöSWE4:06.75
75Werner LampeFRG4:06.97
AC3Rick DeMontUSA4:00.26DQ3