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Court Returns Leopold Accreditation

January 8, 1998

PERTH, Australia (AP) _ German swim team leader Winfried Leopold had his accreditation to the world championships restored by the Western Australian Supreme Court on Thursday.

The German Swimming Federation took FINA, the world swimming governing body, to court after FINA revoked Leopold’s accreditation for comments made about his previous involvement in steroid abuse in the former East Germany.

The federation sought an injunction to have the accreditation returned and their lawyer, Wayne Martin, left the court on Thursday bearing Leopold’s accreditation tag.

The court ruled that only FINA’s doping commission had the power to revoke the accreditation, according to its constitution.

FINA secretary Gunnar Werner said FINA would pursue the matter by calling together its doping commission to hear charges against Leopold as soon as possible.

``If the doping panel takes the decision of suspending him, that will be an immediate effect,″ Werner said.

Leopold was handed back his accreditation by German swimming federation president Ruediger Tretow, who then gave the team leader a bear hug.

``The past few days were very difficult as I was not able to do what I wanted to do, which is support the team and be there for them,″ Leopold said during a press conference at the team hotel. ``It was a heavy burden.″

On Wednesday, Tretow said FINA had failed to appear at the Supreme Court hearing and the case had been adjourned until Thursday.

Leopold served a two-year ban from 1991 after admitting to his part in systematic doping. He repeated his admission in 1993 and the Germans say the FINA ban amounts to a double penalty being imposed on Leopold.

FINA said it was unaware that Leopold had made the previous statements on drugs.

Werner admitted Tuesday that Leopold was banned for the embarrassment he caused to FINA by confessing to his drug past during its premier meet.

``This happened at our competition so we had to do something about it,″ Werner said. ``If he had kept his mouth (shut) here, there would be no reason to react.″

Tretow said he took the decision to pursue court action after discussing the matter with the team.

``The ultimate aim of the whole action would be to assist the team during the world championships so they can be calm and get on with the games,″ Tretow said.

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