The Olympic trial that never happened

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Hungary's leading swimming official has resigned following allegations that half the country's team went to Atlanta based on a qualifying competition that did not take place, an Olympic committee official said yesterday.

"Tamas Gyarfas, the head of the Hungarian Swimming Federation, did not know about the fraud before it appeared in the press," said Lajos Babati, the secretary of the Hungarian Olympic Committee. He added that the discovery of the fraud would not affect the Olympic results of the Hungarian swimming team who were the country's most successful squad in Atlanta, taking three golds, one silver and two bronze medals.

According to reports in the national daily newspaper Napszava, the results of a swimming contest that supposedly took place between 6 and 8 June but never happened, were submitted by Jozsef Ruza, general secretary of the swimming association.

Eleven of the 22-member Hungarian team had not met Olympic qualification times, so a phantom meet was held and imaginary times were entered. Ruza, although taking full responsibility for the fake, did not resign. He told Hungarian radio that this was an international practice and that Fina, the sport's international ruling body, knew about the fraud before the Olympics.

However, an official from Fina's statistics office said that he did not know about the fraud, and had even found some swimmers' results suspiciously good. The HOC said only swimming and athletics results were susceptible to fraud and that they would only consider supervision of further swimming results if the federations themselves did not take care of the issue.