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FINA Decision Causes Consternation in U.S.

Swimming: Americans may ask that Foschi case be reopened after Riley given "strong warning."

February 21, 1996|ELLIOTT ALMOND | TIMES STAFF WRITER

U.S. Swimming leaders questioned their decision to ban Jessica Foschi for taking an anabolic steroid in light of Tuesday's announcement that Australian world-record holder Samantha Riley was cleared by FINA, swimming's international governing body.

FINA gave Riley, who tested positive for the drug dextropropoxyphene at the world short-course championships in Brazil in December, merely a "strong warning" but banned her coach, Scott Volkers, for two years.

The banned substance was in a prescription headache tablet Volkers mistakenly gave to the world 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke champion the day before she raced.

Last week, Foschi, 15, of Old Brookville, N.Y., was given a two-year ban by the U.S. Swimming Board of Directors for testing positive for mesterolone during the U.S. nationals at Pasadena last August.

"In light of FINA's decision to give Riley a 'strong warning' instead of a two-year suspension, I will ask FINA to review the facts of the Jessica Foschi matter," said Carol Zaleski, U.S. Swimming president.

A swimming official who had testified that Foschi should be banned simply because the drug was in her system said, "I feel pretty foolish right now. This changes everything."

FINA decided not to ban Riley, 23, because the drug had no potential to enhance performances. The agent, a narcotic analgesic, is expected to be reclassified by the International Olympic Committee's subcommittee on doping Saturday. Sanctions will be reduced from two years to a maximum of three months.

"I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders," Riley said in Brisbane.

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