Norwegian canoeist faces drugs ban

Olympic Games
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The Independent Online
Peter Ribe, a Norwegian canoeist, has been banned from the Olympics after failing a drugs tests, team officials said yesterday.

Ribe, 29, a bronze medallist at the 1993 World Championships, tested positive for the stimulant ephedrine at a competition in Duisburg in June and faces a three-month ban from the sport. The suspension covers the period of the Games and Ribe has been removed from the team, officials said.

Norwegian officials were due to hold a news conference later yesterday to give more details about the case.

Athletes have claimed in the past that they were using ephedrine as a cold cure, but there is evidence that it has been used as an anorexic agent as well as a stimulant.

The Italian high jumper Antonella Bevilacqua is also in danger of being ruled out of the Olympics after testing positive for the substance in May. Her case will be discussed by athletics officials next week.

The Italian footballer Christian Panucci, forced to fly home from the Games because of injury, told yesterday how last-minute luck saved him from death in the TWA airliner crash.

Panucci, who was to have captained Italy's team, said he had been advised at the John F Kennedy International Airport in New York to catch the doomed TWA flight to Paris and pick up a connecting flight to Rome. However, he realised his baggage had been mislaid and when he went to report the loss, staff of the Italian airline Alitalia told him they had a direct flight to Milan leaving later the same day from Newark, New Jersey. He took that flight.

The plane disaster took over from the weather as the main topic of conversation in Atlanta, but not for long with the forecast being for less settled weather for today when competition begins.

Temperatures are expected to peak at a sweaty 34C but there is a 40 per cent chance of thunderstorms. The forecast is similar for the following three days.

Chinese television reported yesterday that the country's athletes were unhappy with their accommodation in Atlanta, saying that conditions were cramped. There were also complaints that no Chinese food was provided. "Although many types of food have been prepared in the Olympic village, there is no Chinese food. Many of the athletes are not used to eating Western food," the report, on the nationwide evening news broadcast, said. "Not a few have had to make do with hamburgers or Korean kimchi."

Chinese women athletes were shown picking unhappily over food offered at one of the cafeterias in the Olympic village.