Swimming: Britain unlikely to join Swedish-led boycott of World Cup event in Peking

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The Independent Online
Britain are unlikely to follow the lead set by Sweden and pull out of the World Cup short-course meeting in Peking next month despite the continuing outrage at the Chinese drug scandal.

The British federation could find itself in dispute with Fina, the sport's governing body, if it boycotted the event, one at which it plans to give a development squad of young swimmers the chance to gain international experience ahead of the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

World Cup meetings in Britain - Sheffield stages one in March and Glasgow another in 1999 - could be at risk if Britain withdrew.

David Sparkes, secretary of the British federation, said that the contract with Fina meant that to stage a World Cup meeting you had to commit yourself to going to every one outside your own.

"Sweden are breaking the rules by boycotting the event because they also hold a meeting. That sends a message to China that they, too, can ignore the rule book," he said.

Fina moved to refute suggestions that they could banish China from international competition for four years because four of their swimmers had tested positive within a 12-month period.

The rule can only be applied if the drug is steroids - the three females and one male caught in a pre-World Championships swoop last week gave positive tests for a diuretic not a steroid, although it is commonly used to mask detection of more potent illegal substances like steroids.