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Thursday, January 15, 1998 Published at 07:36 GMT


We cannot ban Chinese swimmers - Fina
image: [ Zhang Yi tested positive for a diuretic at the Perth championship ]
Zhang Yi tested positive for a diuretic at the Perth championship

The Chinese swimming team has escaped a ban at the world championships in Australia despite four of its members failing drug tests.

[ image: Wang Wei returns to his hotel after being banned]
Wang Wei returns to his hotel after being banned
The International Amateur Swimming Federation (Fina) said a technicality in the sport's rule-book meant the team escaped an automatic ban.

Fina can expel any nation if four of its athletes test positive for steroids within a one-year period.

But swimmers Zhang Yi, Wang Wei, Wang Luna and Cai Huijue were instead found to have a diuretic called Triamterene in their bloodstream.

Diuretics can be used to cleanse the body of steroid traces. Alone, though, it escapes harsh punishments reserved for actual drug use.

The BBC's Peter Drury was at the news conference held by Gunnar Werner (4'56")
Fina's Secretary, Gunnar Werner, said: "We cannot, during the championships, take any action.

"Fina is strictly following the rules approved by their members. If we don't have any proof of any other thing then we can't do anything about it."

Australia's head swimming coach, Don Talbot, was among those calling for the entire Chinese team to be sent home.

[ image: Yuan Yuan]
Yuan Yuan
The investigations into the Chinese team began when breaststroker Yuan Yuan was found to have 13 vials of an illegal growth hormone in her luggage when she arrived in Australia.

She has since been suspended for four years and her coach, Zhou Zhewen, who said he packed her bags and thought of the scheme, received a 15-year ban.

The four swimmers who subsequently tested positive at the Perth championships have had their medals revoked and been suspended, Fina said.


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