Swimming: Suspensions prompt a call for ban on Chinese

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The Independent Online
THREE CHINESE swimmers have been disqualified from a domestic competition for failing blood tests. The Peking Youth Daily said Tan Caini, China's top-ranked women's 200 metres freestyler last year and two men, 400 metres freestyler Liu Gang and 100 metres breaststroker Xia Shichao, were barred at the City Games in Xi'an.

Australia's Ian Thorpe has called for China to be banned from next year's Sydney Olympics. The alleged new cases raise the number of positive 1999 tests on Chinese swimmers to 14 and to more than 40 since 1991 - more than in the rest of the world in the same period.

A ruling by the international swimming federation, Fina, that any country with more than four drugs tests in any one year would be banned from international competition has lapsed. But 16-year-old Thorpe, who broke world records in the 400 metres freestyle, 200m freestyle and 4x200m freestyle relay at last month's Pan Pacific Championships in the Sydney Olympic pool, wondered why China should be allowed to compete internationally.

"It's disappointing for the sport," he said when told of the news. "Why isn't there the authority to expel them?" Last month China withdrew almost their entire team from the Pan Pacific Championships.

China's official media said three swimmers had been disqualified from the country's City Games after unidentified substances were found in their blood. However, the levels were not judged sufficiently high for further action to be taken.