Four Chinese swimmers were suspended Wednesday after failing drug tests, strengthening accusations that have shadowed the team for years and prompting calls for China to be removed from the world championships at Perth, Australia.
The United States won two titles and Olympic gold medalist Alexander Popov won the 100-meter freestyle. But the focus of the championships again was on drugs and China's team.
FINA, swimming's governing body, said Wang Wei of China's men's team and Wang Luna, Cai Huijue and Zhang Yi of the women's team tested positive for the banned diuretic triamterene and were immediately suspended.
The federation also announced suspensions against two other Chinese team members involved in last week's seizure of a banned performance-enhancer.
Yuan Yuan, a swimmer caught by Australian customs Jan. 8 with human growth hormones in her suitcase, was given a four-year suspension. Coach Zhou Zhewen, who said he put the drugs in the suitcase, was banned for 15 years, although FINA said it would review his case after 10 years.
In New York, IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch said drug use by Chinese athletes hurt that country's hopes of holding the Summer Games.
"They have the right to pursue a bid," he said. "But it is up to the IOC members what is acceptable. I think they would be in trouble."
Meanwhile, the Chinese Swimming Assn. said it was deeply shocked by the positive drug tests and would impose "serious punishment" on those involved.
Lea Maurer of Crestwood, N.Y., won the women's 100-meter backstroke in 1:01.16, .12 of a second ahead of Mai Nakamura of Japan.
The U.S. won the women's 400 freestyle relay, and Brooke Bennett of Plant City, Fla., finished second in the women's 400 to Chen Yan of China by .35 of a second.
Popov, who won the 100 in 48.93, is one step from becoming the first man to win successive 100-meter and 50-meter titles at the world championships.
The victory was the highlight of his comeback. After winning both events at the 1996 Olympics, Popov, 26, was stabbed in the stomach by a Moscow street vendor.
In heats today, Jenna Street set a meet record of 2:26.23 in the 200 breaststroke, and five-time Olympic gold medalist Jenny Thompson was on course for her third gold of the meet with a record-breaking performance of 58.91 in the 100-meter butterfly.
Indianapolis announced a new 10-year lease agreement with the Colts, exactly one year after the death of owner Robert Irsay.
Irsay, who brought the Colts from Baltimore in 1984, died last Jan. 14, more than a year after he had suffered a stroke.
Running back Corey Dillon of the Cincinnati Bengals, who led all first-year rushers with 1,129 yards, was named AFC rookie of the year by the NFL Players Assn.
The Carolina Panthers will replace former general manager Bill Polian with two people. Jack Bushofsky, who has spent the last four years as a regional scout with the Panthers, will be director of pro personnel, and Marty Hurney, coordinator of football operations with the San Diego Chargers for the last eight years, will be director of football administration.
Serena Williams, 16, the younger and perhaps better half of the most exciting sister act in sports, fought off two match points on a gimpy knee to defeat third-ranked Lindsay Davenport, 1-6, 7-5, 7-5, and reach the semifinals of the Sydney International.
Moments later, Venus Williams and dispatched Maggie Maleeva, 6-2, 6-2, on the same center court.
"Serena's better than Venus," Davenport said.
Pete Sampras, playing his first match since sustaining a calf injury last month in the Davis Cup final, lost his opening match in the Colonial Classic exhibition tournament to French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten of Brazil, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, at Melbourne, Australia.
Two-time champion Jim Courier withdrew from next week's Australian Open because of a shoulder injury.
Russia's replacements for its top injured men came through at the European figure skating championships at Milan, Italy, with Alexei Yagudin, 17, leading a sweep in the short program.
Alexander Abt, in his first major event as a late substitute for injured 1995 champion Ilia Kulik, was second and Yevgeny Plushenko was third.
Philippe Candeloro of France, the 1994 Olympic bronze medalist and one of the favorites, was ninth out of 30 skaters. Olympic and European champion Alexei Urmanov, sidelined since the March world championships because of a groin injury, is not competing.
Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze of Russia won the pairs title.