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4 Chinese Swimmers Suspended

January 14, 1998

PERTH, Australia (AP) _ A Chinese drug scandal again rocked the world swimming championships tonight, overshadowing Russian star Alex Popov’s victory in the 100-meter freestyle.

As the swim finals ended, swimming’s governing body announced that four Chinese swimmers _ male Wang Wei and females Wang Luna, Cai Huijue and Zhang Yi _ were immediately suspended after testing positive for the banned substance Triamterene, a diuretic.

FINA said the samples were collected on Jan. 8, and that the four were suspended, without a hearing, until the ``B″ samples taken at the same time are analyzed.

Diuretics are sometimes used by athletes to reduce weight, but medical officials say they also are used to reduce the concentration of drugs in urine in an attempt to flush drugs from the system.

FINA also announced that Chinese swimmer Yuan Yuan, caught by Australia Customs on Jan. 8 with banned human growth hormones in her suitcase, has been banned from competition for four years.

Her coach, Zhou Zhewen, who said he placed the drugs in her suitcase, was banned for 15 years, although FINA said it would review the case after 10 years, and possibly place him on probation for the final five years.

FINA also suspended Ukrainian swimmer Olena Lapunova for four years after a positive test for the banned Metandienone metabolite following a test Nov. 15. Australian swimmer Scott Miller was suspended for two months for testing positive to marijuana Sept. 22.

In the 100 freestyle, Popov, a four-time Olympic gold medalist, took the lead at the start, made the turn first, and was never seriously threatened by Australian training partner Michael Klim. Both are coached by Russia’s Gennadi Touretski and train together at the Australian Institute of Sport.

Popov, 26, who swept the 50 and 100 freestyles in the Barcelona and Atlanta Olympics, is attempting to become the first man to win both events in consecutive world meets. The 50 is Saturday.

``I’m exhausted, but not ecstatic,″ Popov said. ``It was a usual victory, nothing spectacular.″

Popov finished in 48.93 seconds, while Klim, who won the 200 freestyle and was a member of the winning 800 freestyle relay team, was second in 49.20. Lars Frolander of Sweden followed in 49.53.

The Russian said he felt he was tiring near the end.

``I said to Michael, `I think I lost half a second in the last 10 meters,‴ Popov said. ``I couldn’t feel anything in my body anymore.″

Klim said he didn’t pay much attention to his rival during the race.

``I was really only concentrating on myself, and not on Alex,″ Klim said. ``I didn’t see him. It’s his event and he really deserves it. I might have to wait for the next generation.″

Popov, who set the world record of 48.21 in June 1994 at Monte Carlo, appears to be back in top form after being seriously injured in a Moscow knife attack shortly after the Atlanta Games.

In other finals, China’s Chen Yan won the women’s 400 freestyle for her second gold medal of the meet, Lea Maurer of Crestwood, N.Y., took the 100 backstroke, the United States won the women’s 400 freestyle relay, and Ukraine’s Denys Sylantyev took the men’s 200 butterfly.

Chen, also the 400 individual medley winner, finished in 4:06.72. Brooke Bennett of Plant City, Fla., who led through 300 meters, was second in 4:07.07, and Dagmar Hase of Germany finished third in 4:08.82.

Bennett, 17, the 800 winner in Atlanta, set the pace through every change until Chen took over just before the final 50 meters.

``I tried to stay with the Chinese girl all the way,″ Bennett said. ``But I saw her just getting away from me at the end.″

Maurer won the 100 backstroke in 1:01.16. Japan’s Mai Nakamura finished second in 1:01.28, and Germany’s Sandra Voelker was third in 1:01.47.

``I knew it would be nerve-wracking tonight, and that it would be a good, close finish,″ Maurer said. ``I knew if I just posted a fast time the win would take care of itself.″

Olympic champion Beth Botsford of Baltimore was fifth in 1:02.31.

Jenny Thompson, the 100 freestyle champion, led the U.S. team to victory in the relay, overcoming Australia’s Angie Kennedy on the final leg.

Thompson of Dover, N.H., combined with Lindsey Farella of Elk Grove Village, Ill.; Amy Van Dyken of Lone Tree, Colo; and B.J. Bedford of Etna, N.H., for a winning time of 3:42.11. Germany finished second in 3:43.11, and Australia was third in 3:43.71.

Sylantyev won the 200 butterfly in 1:56.61. France’s Franck Esposito was second in 1:56.77, and Tom Malchow of St. Paul, Minn., third in 1:57.26.

In synchronized swimming, Olga Brousnikina and Olga Sedakova won the duet title. Sedakova won the solo event Tuesday.

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