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Hungary Confirms Olympic Swim Scam

September 10, 1996

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) _ Half of Hungary’s swimming team, which won six Olympic medals, qualified for the Atlanta Games on the basis of fictitious times from a meet that was never held.

Government officials Tuesday confirmed newspaper reports of the scam and blamed the Hungarian Swimming Federation for submitting the fraudulent records.

``Fraud is fraud, and this was fraud,″ said Rezsoe Gallov, who heads the government’s national gymnastics and sports office. ``We and the Hungarian Olympic Committee oppose any such practice.″

Gallov said 11 of the 22-member Hungarian team had not met Olympic qualification times at national and regional meets. So a phantom meet was held and imaginary times were entered. Two swimmers were even disqualified for the sake of authenticity.

``These swimmers were all capable of meeting the Olympic requirements,″ Gallov said. ``The trouble was that the federation leaders were too lazy to keep proper records.

``This meet should’ve been held, or at least a training session should have been called a competition to meet the administrative requirements.″

MTI, the state-owned news agency, said Tuesday that federation head Tamas Gyarfas had resigned because of the scandal.

The Hungarian federation submitted the false records from the phantom competition on June 6-8 to FINA, swimming’s international ruling body, which compiled the world ranking list on the basis of which Olympic competitors were selected.

Listed as participants at the phony meet were Attila Czene, Tamas Deutsch and Attila Zubor, among the country’s best swimmers. Czene was part of the gold-winning team that took the 200-meter medley.

The Hungarian federation’s general secretary, Jozsef Ruza, refused to resign. He told state television Monday the international swim federation had been aware of the fraud.

But federation head Cornel Marculescu denied his organization knew or approved the scam.

``We don’t have police around the world to check up on national committees,″ he said by phone from Lausanne, Switzerland.

The Hungarian swim team was among the most successful in any discipline at Atlanta with its six medals, three of them gold.

Gallov, the Hungarian official, said those involved had to be called to account but no medals won at Atlanta were in jeopardy. But Marculescu said the IOC might be called on to decide what, if any, penalties to apply.

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