Fina Delay's Decision on Michelle Smith
Karin Helmstaedt

The FINA Doping Panel heard charges against triple gold medallist Michelle Smith-de Bruin yesterday in Lausanne but failed to come to a decision on her case.

Smith-de Bruin is charged with tampering with a urine sample that she provided to out-of-competition testers on Jan.10, 1998. Under FINA rules, this is considered as serious as a steroid offence. The 28 year-old swimmer could receive up to a lifetime suspension if she is found guilty of the charges.

After hearing the evidence against Ireland's controversial champion, the Doping Panel announced it would have to reflect further on the material, and that it could be days or even weeks before they reach a decision. Smith-de Bruin's lawyer, Peter Lennon, accompanied her to the hearing and said afterward, "We've been told they will inform us of any decision as soon as they come to it, and we'd like to think Michele will be the first to know." Lennon has already indicated that he will appeal any guilty finding.

Earlier yesterday, the three-man Doping Panel found four Chinese swimmers guilty of using a banned substance. Swimmers Luna Wang, Cai Huijue, Zhang Yi and Wang Wei tested positive for the masking agent triamterene at the World Championships in Perth; they have been suspended from all competition for two years. The suspensions take effect immediately, and the temporary suspension period served from Jan.14 until April 25 will be deducted from the two years.

Members of the Doping Panel were three lawyers, German judge Harm Beyer, Ben Belkacen Farid of Algeria, and Bernard Favaro of the United States.