By Phillip Whitten
MINSK, Belarus, September 26. FINA, swimming's international governing body, reduced the ban on 17 year-old Belarussian sprint champion, Alexandra Gerasimenya, from four years to two today. In June, Gerasimenya tested positive for norandrosterone.
In July, the FINA Congress, under intense pressure from the IOC and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), reduced the penalty for a doping violation from four years to two. FINA has let swimmers who were suspended for doping violations before the July meeting know that it would consider individual petitions to reduce penalties to two years. Two days ago, FINA announced a decision to reduce Claudia Poll's suspension to two years, which will allow her to compete at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Gerasimenya, who has continued to maintain her innocence, will be eligible to compete again on June 3, 2005. However, she continues to train and told reporters she plans to compete unofficially in the upcoming national championships.