The Summer of 1984, Los Angeles: A year before Michael Phelps was even born, hometown girl Dara Torres, just 17, won an Olympic gold medal in the 4x100 meter freestyle relay. Three golds, one silver and four bronzes later, Torres, now 41, will become the first U.S. swimmer to compete in five Olympics. Consider: the last time she reached the Games—Sydney in 2000—she was already the team's oldest swimmer. In Beijing, where Torres will race the 50-meter freestyle and two relays, the second oldest swimmer on the team will be 26-year-old Amanda Beard. The saga of Torres, our ageless wonder, has become a fan favorite.
But while everyone is impressed, not everyone is convinced. Some journalists have wondered aloud if this fairy tale is exactly that. They can't comprehend how Torres could swim the fastest 100 meters of her life—at her advanced age, after a lengthy retirement, and just two years after giving birth—without doping. Torres says she is clean, noting that she has volunteered for a rigorous testing program conducted by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. And she's been remarkably good-natured about reporters' questions, saying she regards all the suspicions as "compliments." Still, as columnist Pat Forde put it on ESPN.com: "I want to believe in Supermom. But she might simply have to take this column as one long compliment."