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Tuesday, January 6, 1998 Published at 10:47 GMT


Drug cheats face four-year ban
image: [ Swimming hopes its tough stance will deter drugs cheats ]
Swimming hopes its tough stance will deter drugs cheats

Swimming's governing body has voted to keep banning first-time drugs offenders from competition for four years.

The move was in the face of pressure from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which wants to standardise bans for first-time offenders at two years.

The International Amateur Athletic Federation has already fallen into line with the IOC guidelines, changing their bans to two years.

But Fina, world swimming's governing body, agreed overwhelmingly to keep their longer ban in force on the eve of the World Swimming Championships.

Fina's president, Mustapha Lafaoui, called a halt to the debate after only four speakers.

Delegates from Australia, Britain, Barbados and Denmark all spoke for retaining four-year bans.

Mr Lafaoui told the congress that it was obvious that its sentiment backed a retention of current Fina rules.

In 1996, Fina leaders pushed for a return to a two-year ban, citing costly litigation and legal problems with the four-year sanction.

But the shorter penalty was rejected when Congress delegates from the United States, Australia and Britain spoke strongly against it.

Fina introduced the four-year penalty after the 1994 Asian Games.

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