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Exclusive: Banned Swimmer Allowed To Compete -- September 17, 2000

By Phillip Whitten

SYDNEY, September 18. ROMANIAN swimmer Cezar Badita, a finalist in the men's 400 meter individual medley last night, competed here in Sydney despite having tested positive for nandralone, an illegal performance-enhancing steroid. Under FINA rules, the violation carries an automatic four-year suspension. The revelation comes on the heels of the expulsion of five Romanian weight-lifters, all of them accused of using steroids.

Badita, the Romanian record-holder in both the 200 and 400 meter individual medley, failed a doping test conducted at the Mare Nostrum swim meet in Monte Carlo on May 20. The results were reported to the FINA Executive by the FINA doping laboratory on "August 8 or 10," according to Cornel Marculescu, FINA Executive Director.

What happened in the five weeks since then appears mired in confusion. According to Marculescu, under FINA rules, the issue passed to the Romanian Swimming Federation, which decided that Badita was not guilty of the doping offense. The FINA doping panel, under the leadership of Harm Beyer, a German lawyer, then decided to reinstate Badita temporarily, pending a hearing at which FINA will appeal the decision of the Romanian federation.

That appeal will not be held until after the Games are over. The result: a swimmer who has tested positive for an illegal substance appeared in an Olympic final, knocking out an athlete who has followed the rules.

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For more stories and photos visit the CBS OLYMPIC SWIMMING SITE.

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