Popov Hospitalized, Probably Will Miss World Champs

MOSCOW, July 17. THE Czar, Alex Popov, has ben taken to a Moscow hospital with a severe throat infection and is likely to miss the FINA World Championships which began on Monday in Fukuoka. Pool events begin next Sunday.

"He was taken to a Moscow hospital over the weekend with a severe throat infection," Marina Bantsekina, spokeswoman for the Russian Swimming Federation (RSF), said today.

Bantsekina quoted RSF president Gennady Alyoshin as saying that Popov was unlikely to go to Japan to defend the world 100 meter freestyle title he won in Perth in 1998.

"He was due to leave for Japan on Tuesday but he remained in hospital, so it's unlikely he will go there to compete," she said.

Canberra-based Popov, who won both the 50 and 100 metres freestyle golds at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, attended the 112th session of the International Olympic Committee, which ended in the Russian capital on Monday.

Popov, who turns 30 in November, was scheduled to compete in Fukuoka in both the 50 and 100 meter freestyle and also two relays if Russia made the finals.

Coming into the meet, he was ranked first in the world in the 50 meter freestyle at 21.91 seconds, and tenth in the 100 (49.43). The USA's Anthony Ervin leads the world rankings in the century at 48.98 seconds.

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