Foster pips Popov to collect car

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The Independent Online

Britain's Mark Foster won a Fiat car after setting the fifth-fastest 50 metres freestyle time in history in the World Cup meet at Imperia, Italy, yesterday.

The Commonwealth champion powered to victory in the final in 21.70sec, two-hundredths of a second outside the two-year-old world record held by Russia's Alexander Popov, who finished second behind Foster.

Foster was awarded the new car for his performance, which earned the highest points rating of any swim during the two-day meet. "It's nice to win the car but I am more pleased to have beaten Popov - he wasn't a happy man afterwards," Foster said.

Last week, the 25-year-old was banned from competing for three months by the French swimming federation after testing positive for cannabis at a meet in France last summer. Foster maintained he had passively inhaled the tiny amount involved, and the French federation said they would not apply for the ban to be extended outside France.

Germany's former world champion Sylvia Gerasch, making her international return from a two-year drug ban, took second place in the 50m breaststroke and third in the 100m individual medley.

n Germany's Franziska van Almsick has unexpectedly pulled out of this weekend's World Cup series finale in the German town of Gelsenkirchen to concentrate on her Olympic preparations.