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Arbitration panel reinstates American swimmer

June 18, 1997

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) _ American swimmer Jessica Foschi was restored to good standing when an arbitration panel ruled that her two-year suspension for alleged drug use was too long.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said Foschi, 16, was guilty of a doping offense and imposed a retroactive six-month suspension from Aug. 4, 1995, to Feb. 3, 1996.

Foschi already has served that time, so is eligible to resume competition immediately. The two-year ban would have expired in August.

The arbitration court also ordered FINA, swimming’s world governing body, to pay $10,000 as a contribution to Foschi’s expenses in fighting the ban.

Foschi was 15 when she tested positive for steroids at the U.S. national championships in Pasadena, Calif., on Aug. 4, 1995. She has denied ever knowingly taking a banned substance.

U.S. swimming authorities placed Foschi on two years’ probation, but last June FINA’s executive committee suspended her for two years.

The arbitration ruling followed a hearing on the case in New York last Thursday and Friday.

A CAS statement said Foschi was ``found to have committed an offense″ under article 4.3 of FINA’s medical rules. However, it did not explain its decision to reduce the suspension to six months.

FINA officials said they were perplexed at the ruling.

FINA secretary general Gunnar Werner said the medical rules in force at the time of Foschi’s test clearly state that a positive finding for steroids carries a minimum two-year suspension.

``Either it’s an offense or it isn’t an offense,″ Werner said. ``I can’t see how they can avoid two years.″

However, Werner said FINA would accept the ruling.

``We have made an agreement,″ he said. ``Our rules state clearly that the final decision is made by the CAS. For us, it’s finished.″

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