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Timing Fiasco Robs Sludnov of World Record - Twice -- August 9, 2001

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia. Aug. 9. RUSSIA'S chief swimming referee said today that St. Petersburg's main pool should never be used for major competition again after a timing failure cost Roman Sludnov a breaststroke world record.

Yesterday - shades of the Seiko fiasco at the World Chjampionships in Japan - Sludnov bettered the world record time in the 50 meter breaststroke twice, but his efforts were in vain as the electronic timing system failed.

The 21-year-old Russian clocked 27.25 seconds in the final of the World Military Games to beat American Ed Moses's mark of 27.39, set four months ago.

However, the electronic device recorded the times of all the swimmers except for Sludnov, who was swimming in lane four. The organizers then decided to give Sludnov another shot at the record.

After a short rest he produced another record-breaking performance with a time of 27.36, only to see it nullified once again, this time after the judges simply forgot to reset the electronic timer properly.

Felix Mikhailov, who heads the referees' committee in the Russian Swimming Federation (RSF), blamed the electronic system's engineer.

"I would recommend to the RSF board to ban this swimming pool from all top-level competition," he said. "We just can't afford these sorts of embarrassments in the future."

Mikhailov said the electronic system in the pool had not been used since the Goodwill Games in 1994.

It was the second embarrassment for swimming officials at the pool in Russia's second city. Many swimmers refused to use it during the 1994 Games after the water became murky.