SWIMNEWS ONLINE: February 1996 Magazine Articles

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Anita Lonsbrough

Mark Foster, Britain's leading sprint freestyler, has been banned by the French Federation after testing positive for cannabis at last summer's French Championships. The ban, which is for three months commencing on Friday, January 26, 1996, only applies in France when he is competing for his French club Cannes.

An official spokesperson for the French Federation stated "We have no intention of asking FINA to make the ban worldwide."

But Cornel Marculescu, Director of FINA, claims "It is not simply a matter for them, it is not for a Federation to ask us to impose a ban. The Federations are obliged to report doping cases to us. We would normally confirm the sanction, if any, which should start from the date the sample was taken. In this case, France's sanction starts only now and is not in accordance with our practice. The executive of FINA will look at the case and can decide to reopen it . If the original sanction is to be imposed internationally, it would probably be retroactive."

If the ban is made worldwide, Foster, the former world short course champion and record holder for the 50 m freestyle, would have to appeal to the British Olympic Association to restore his eligibility for a BOA team. The Amateur Swimming Federation of Great Britain is still waiting for a statement from the French Federation about the matter.

Mark Foster, 25, who has always maintained "I have not knowingly taken anything," admits that the problem is having an effect "not on my training but on my sleep. It is a constant worry but there is nothing I can do. I have to let it take its course."

It certainly did not affect his performance at the British Grand Prix organized by his club, City of Cardiff. Using his explosive start, which is arguably the best in the world, he sped down the famous Empire Pool, winning the 50 m butterfly in 24.59 seconds. It was a British record, only 0.26 seconds off the world mark held by Sweden's Jan Karlsson and only 0.26 seconds away from a Vitari Jeep the organizers had offered for a world record.

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