By Phillip Whitten
ROMANIAN Olympic swimmer Cezar Badita, banned for doping earlier this week, said today he plans to spend his one-year suspension playing water polo.
"I have decided to keep in shape as a water polo player at Steaua Bucharest," Badita said. "When my ban ends next year, I'll choose between the ball and the lane in a swimming pool."
Badita tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone at a Mare Nostrum meet in Monte Carlo last May, but FINA allowed him to compete at last year's Olympics in Sydney because his case was under appeal by the Romanian Olympic Committee, which claimed it had determined Badita was innocent.
FINA banned Badita after a second sample also tested positive and he was stripped of his seventh place finish in the Olympic 400 meter individual medley. Unfortunately, allowing Badita to compete at all deprived the ninth place finisher in the prelims–Jirka Letzin of Germany–from an opportunity to swim in the Olympic final.
The ban by FINA and Badita's plans raise some interesting questions:
1. Why was Badita banned for only one year when FINA rules specify a four-year suspension for taking steroids?
2. Will FINA, which governs international water polo as well as swimming, permit Badita to compete in water polo during his suspension from swimming?