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Canadian Swimmer Apologizes to Italians -- June 14, 2001

June 14. CANADIAN breaststroker Morgan Knabe has apologized for accusing Italian Olympic gold medalist Domenico Fioravanti of using drugs and saying he wanted to punch the swimmer in the face.

Fioravanti was one of several Italian swimmers who
performed spectacularly in Sydney, dropping his 200 meter time from 2:14 to 2:10, and one of two who won gold medals. Not expected to final, Fioravanti became the first man ever to win both the 100 and 200 meter breaststroke at the same Olympic Games.

After the Games, an Italian newspaper, Corriere
della Sera
, revealed that 61 Italian Olympic medalists, all training at the national training center, had all tested with astronomical levels of human growth hormone (hGH) in tests conucted by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) in June. CONI intially covered up the results. After they were revealed by the newspaper, CONI officials said the tests were being used internally and were not significant, a point of view held by no independent drug expert in the world.

Fioravanti, however, was not among the 61 Italian Olympians with abnormally high hGH. However, his teammate, Massi Rosolino, was. Rosolino, who won gold in the 200 IM, silver in the 400 free, and bronze in the 200 free, reportedly had hGH levels that were 15 times normal!

"I would like to apologize to the Italian Swimming Federation and to its swimmers, particularly
Domenico Fioravanti, for any comments which I made related to suspected drug use," Knabe said in a statement released through Swimming Canada.

"Compared to the Italian? I don't use drugs," Knabe is
quoted as saying in an interview earlier this month with cansport.com.

He was then asked about the issue of drugs in swimming. "I just get frustrated," said Knabe, who finished sixth in the 100-meter breaststroke at the Sydney Olympics but failed to qualify for the 200-meter final.

"I just feel that I want to punch that Italian in the
face the next time I see him. Obviously I can't do that. I can't say for sure [that he used drugs]. I
just don't have any respect for him." During the
interview, Knabe said it was "way too suspicious" the way Fioravanti reduced his times between the 1999 world championships and the Sydney Games.

Here's what Knabe said originally:

"I do not know about him (Fioravanti). I only saw the Italian once this year at a World Cup and he barely swam any breaststroke. Whatever he’s doing, training or hiding in a corner, I don’t care…

"Compared to the Italian? I don’t use drugs.

"As for (American Ed) Moses, the guy is just an animal. He trains like a beast. So I have a lot of respect for him. The Italian, not so much…I just feel that I want to punch that Italian in the face the next time I see him. Obviously I can’t do that. I just have to get in the pool and race him and do my best against him.

"In '99 I was on the Worlds podium with him, then I didn’t hear at all from him for a year and then he goes to Europeans and crushes everything there and then he goes to the Olympics and he took four seconds off his 200 breast in one meet. He went into the Olympics with a 2:14 and he goes 2:10. It’s just way too suspicious...I just don’t have any respect for him."