By Phillip Whitten
INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 13. DALE Neuburger, President of USA Swimming and a Vice President of FINA, swimming's international governing body, issued a statement clarifying the decision announced by FINA today.
The surprise FINA announcement reinstated the USA women's 4x200m freestyle relay team that had been disqualified at the World Championships in July, making the Americans co- world champions with a British team. At the same time, FINA made it clear that the British team would remain officially listed as the champions in the results.
"All [it] means," said Neuburger, is that the results will not be re-ordered and that there will two gold medalists in the event. Times count, results reflected, medal standings changed, etc. It's an
awkward use of English that could be misinterpreted, but it was meant to say that Great Britain didn't go to second."
As this observer now understands it, the results will now read:
1. Great Britain 7:58.69 (national record)
1. USA 7:56.53 (national record)
2. Germany 8:01.35
3. Japan 8:02.97
The decision by FINA was remarkable in that FINA spokesmen Cornel Marculescu and Sam Ramsamy had been quoted as saying last July that they had "complete faith" in the Seiko timing system and that the Americans were nothing more than "sore losers."
In fact, the timing problem that led to the disqualification was only one of some 19 that occurred during the course of the World Championships.
Though it has not been confirmed, what appears to have happened is that FINA President Mustafa Larfaoui viewed the videos of the takeoff in question and made a judgment that the FINA board of appeal had made an error in disqualifying the Americans. He then appears to have made a decision, in the interests of justice, to reinstate the US team without penalizing the British team, crowned world champions four months ago, in the process.
Cristina Teuscher, the American swimmer who wrongly had been charged with leaving the blocks too early — 6-hundredths of a second before the previous swimmer touched the pads, rather than the allowable 3-hundredths — said she was "elated!" Sighing deeply, she repeated, "elation–that's what I feel."
"I'm especially happy for all of the girls on the relay team, even more so because we swam an American record.
"Something you learn as you grow up is that things don't always go your way. So it's really great when justice prevails and an organization does the right thing.
"I was happy to share this good news with my family and friends today, especially in the somber mood in New York following yesterday's plane crash.
"I want to thank Dale Neuburger and the President of FINA for having the courage to take action and do the right thing."