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Swimmers Cited for Drug Offenses

November 9, 1998

PHOENIX (AP) _ Gary Hall Jr., who won four medals at the Atlanta Olympics, was cited for marijuana use by swimming’s governing body on Monday but remains eligible to compete.

Hall had been suspended for three months by the drug panel of FINA, the international federation, for testing positive for marijuana. However, FINA deducted the three months served by Hall under a temporary suspension, meaning he faces no further penalty.

Hall, who lives in Phoenix, was training in Oakland, Calif., and could not immediately be reached for comment. His lawyer, Ed Hendricks, did not immediately return a call.

Two other U.S. swimmers were cited for drug offenses by FINA from its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Suzanne Black, the gold medalist in the 800 freestyle at last year’s University Games in Sicily, was suspended for three months after testing positive for marijuana. FINA did not specify the date and place of the test.

Austin Ramirez, an open water distance swimmer, received a ``strong warning″ after a drug test showed evidence of the stimulant Pemoline.

Hall won gold medals as part of the U.S. 400-meter freestyle and 400 medley relay teams at the 1996 Olympics. He also won silver medals in the 50 and 100 freestyle.

Hall was suspended in July by FINA, which said he tested positive for marijuana during a May 15 competition in Phoenix. That prevented Hall from swimming in the Goodwill Games in New York.

FINA said Hall also had tested positive for marijuana during the 1996 Olympics. He received only a warning then because FINA’s ban on marijuana was not in effect at the time.

FINA secretary Gunnar Werner said the federation’s executive bureau had considered Hall guilty of a second offense, which is punishable by a suspension of up to two years. But he said that view was not upheld by the FINA drug panel, which ruled it a first offense.

Ramirez could have faced a three-month suspension but FINA only reprimanded him for failing to say he was taking the substance for medical reasons.

``There were some special circumstances in that case,″ Werner said. ``I think it was just a mistake.″

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