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  Wednesday, 25 July, 2001, 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK
Confusion over British medal
US swimmer Julie Hardt dives into the water as team-mate Cristina Teuscher finishes her leg
Illegal? Hardt of the US dives in as Teuscher finishes
The 4x200 women's freestyle team may have won Britain's first gold medal at the World Swimming Championship for 26 years - but the result is subject to appeal.

Australia were first to finish the final in seven mins 56 secs with the US second, and Britain third.

But first the runners-up, and then the winners, were disqualified to hand GB the gold.

However, the Americans were reinstated after an appeal - even though it appeared one of their swimmers had started too quickly at the changeover.

Britain's team celebrate their podium finish
The British team celebrate - but what colour is the medal?
Britain and Australia then mounted their own protests, and a decision was taken to postpone the medal ceremony for 24 hours.

The British quartet of Nicola Jackson, Janine Belton, Karen Legg and Karen Pickering were the fastest qualifiers for the final.

But they looked unlikely to even get a medal until a storming last leg from Pickering brought Britain into the medal positions.

The four swam a new British record of seven mins 58.69 secs and looked as though they would have to be content with bronze, before the USA and Australia were thrown out of the race.

The British team were left in limbo after the Americans lodged a complaint.

The US claimed that the touchpad in lane five - which showed that Julie Hardt left the starting block for the second leg before Cristina Teuscher touched the wall - was faulty.

British team boss Craig Hunter makes an official complaint
British team boss Craig Hunter makes an official complaint
"It is a circus of total confusion," said Britain's Australian-born National Performance Director Bill Sweetenham. "This is an amateur way of doing things.

"Once the final result has been confirmed it should be left at that. The Americans should not have been re-instated.

"If there is a fault with the touch-pad then you would have to question every result from that lane.

"Nobody wants a re-race. We will be happy with gold, silver or bronze - but it would be nice to think that this sort of thing would not happen."

If Britain do win gold it will be their first world championship victory since David Wilkie completed a breaststroke double in 1975 championships.

"It is maybe not the best way to win the gold - you would like to touch the wall first," said Pickering.

Joanna Fargus impressed in the backstroke
Joanna Fargus impressed in the backstroke
"But we have annihilated the British record and you cannot ask for more than that."

Meanwhile, Joanna Fargus qualified for the 200m backstroke final with an impressive display to win her semi-final.

Fargus, who trained for three years in Australia before moving back to Britain, won her semi in 2:11.61.

Her time was the second fastest, but Olympic champion Diana Mocanu clocked 2:10.59.

Portsmouth's Katy Sexton, fifth in the same race as Fargus, missed out on a final place.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Sport's Bob Ballard
"The medal ceremony has been postponed until tomorrow"
Australian swimming coach Don Talbot
"There were protests flying everywhere"
British performance director Bill Sweetenham
"It's a storm in a tea cup"

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