Olympic medical chief backs decision to warn Riley

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The Independent Online

The Olympics' chief medical official yesterday applauded the international swimming federation, Fina, for only warning Samantha Riley, a world champion, after a positive drug test.

"I am very satisfied," said Prince Alexandre de Merode, the chairman of the International Olympic Committee medical commission. "I think they made a decision that is fair and just. I think it was an intelligent interpretation of the rules. This decision gives credibility to the anti-doping fight."

Fina announced on Tuesday that it had issued a "strong warning" to Riley after she failed a drug test at the World Short-course Championships in Brazil on 1 December. The Australian swimmer, the world 100 and 200 metres breaststroke champion, tested positive for the drug dextroproposyphene, which was in a banned headache tablet given to her by her coach, Scott Volkers.

Fina could have banned Riley for two years, but it decided against that because the product "had no potential to enhance her performance or give her an unfair advantage."

Fina, however, took a tough line against Volkers, banning him "from all swimming activities" for two years.

De Merode said Riley's urine sample turned up only a "weak" level of the drug, which he compared to an aspirin. He acknowledged that Volker's two-year suspension was harsh but said it was justified. "An athlete is under the control of responsible people who should be careful about their actions," he said. "It is a severe penalty, definitely, but it makes people who have responsibility for others think twice."