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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES | NOTES

Suspended Romanian Athlete Escorted Out

September 27, 2000|From Associated Press

World-record holder Mihaela Melinte of Romania was escorted off the Olympic Stadium track infield today just before she was to throw in the hammer competition because she had been suspended for testing positive for steroids.

Melinte, the 1999 world champion, was suspended only two days ago by the International Amateur Athletic Federation, the governing body for track and field, IAAF spokesman Giorgio Reineri said.

Melinte, 25, tested positive for metabolites of nandrolone at a meet in Milan, Italy, on June 7, according to Arne Ljungqvist, IAAF medical commission chairman.

Reineri said the Romanian federation had not suspended Melinte, so the IAAF took action.

"The federation was informed in a letter on Sept. 25," Reineri said. "If they don't take the action, we can only stop the athlete. The athlete was not supposed to be there."

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A slip off the three-meter springboard ended painfully for German diver Conny Schmalfuss.

Schmalfuss was trying a reverse 2 1/2 somersault in today's preliminaries when her feet slipped off the edge of the board. She came out of the somersault and landed in the water flat on her back.

Schmalfuss grimaced and grabbed her left shoulder as she climbed out of the pool to loud applause from the crowd of 17,500.

The seven judges gave her all zeros and dropped her to last place among 43 divers. She performed one more dive before withdrawing.

*

Center fielder Laura Berg of Santa Fe Springs was the only player on the U.S. softball team who didn't have family members in Australia to cheer her on as the team won the gold medal, but she was hardly lonely.

"We're family," second baseman Dot Richardson said, wrapping her arms around Berg's shoulders.

And Berg has come to rely on that family through tough times.

Her fiance, Eric Kidd, was paralyzed in a freak accident while playfully wrestling with a pal a year ago, and he may never walk again. That has weighed heavily on Berg's mind; she called her father and twin sister, Randi, immediately after the game and planned to call her fiance next.

"My emotions have really been up and down with my fiance," she said. "I know he's always supported me. . . . One of the reasons why I'm here is that he and my family have supported me."

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Cathy Freeman's winning run in the women's 400 meters Monday night literally stopped the country.

Nielsen ratings showed that 8,787,000 viewers watched the race on TV, 2,273,000 in Sydney alone, or 90.3% of the TV-watching audience in the city.

All of that made Freeman's race the second-most-watched TV event in Aussie history, topped only by the opening ceremony for these Games, which drew more than 10 million viewers.

The Nielsen figures do not include thousands who watched on big screens at live sites, pubs or clubs.

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