Swimming: Interpol hunts Hungarian coach

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The Independent Online
THE success of Hungary at the Olympic Games in Barcelona lost some of its golden glow yesterday when it was revealed in Budapest that local investigators were working with Interpol in an effort to track down the national swimming coach, Gyoergy Zemplenyi, who is suspected of embezzling about dollars 7m (pounds 3.6m).

Zemplenyi, who sponsored and led the national team who won five gold medals in Spain, may have fled to South Africa, according to local newspapers. The Hungarian police said the coach, who owns a travel agency and billiards clubs in Budapest, obtained the money from companies and individuals in the name of the Hungarian Swimming Federation and ordered a number of BMW cars the same way.

Zemplenyi, who is believed to have business interests in Australia and the United States, also persuaded team members and trainers to give him money on the basis that he would repay the sums with interest. Investigators have already confiscated all the coach's known property in Budapest.

Zemplenyi's style has previously attracted attention. His swimmers stayed in the Hilton hotel during the European championships in Athens and took part in training sessions in Australia and Mauritius. In Barcelona, they stayed in a four-star hotel rather than in the athletes' village.

Hungary, with a population of 10.45m, finished the Olympics eighth on the medals table with 11 gold, 12 silver and seven bronze.

A recent survey, rating all the countries which participated in the Olympics according to their populations and the number of medals they won, showed Hungary to be No 1 in the world.