By Phillip Whitten
NEW YORK, Oct. 15. ROMAN Sloudnov, the 21 year-old Russian who last year became the first swimmer to break the one-minute barrier for the 100 meter breaststroke, was unable to obtain a visa to visit the US.
Sloudnov needed a visa after accepting an invitation to compete in the US at the Novo Nordisk Sprint Cup, to be held in New York next Saturday. The event is the first major international swim meet to be held since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.
Sloudnov had traveled to Moscow from his home in Omsk, Siberia, on the first leg of his journey to New York, only to find that "the US Embassy in Moscow has been closed indefinitely," according to Igor Vazhenin, a former Russian who is now an American citizen and has been serving as a translator and intermediary. Unable to find any other way to obtain a visa, he reportedly flew back to Siberia this evening.
The match-up in the 50 meter breaststroke between Sloudnov, American Ed Moses, whose world record Sloudnov broke, and Germany's Mark Warnecke, the world record-holder in the 50 meter (short course) breaststroke, was expected to be one of the highlights of the Sprint Cup, which has attracted many of the world's top sprinters.
Sloudnov reportedly is being replaced on the World team with Ukraine's Oleg Lisogor, who won the 50 meter breaststroke at the World Championships in Fukuoka last July.