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Mar 31, 1999

HONG KONG - During the FINA Extraordinary Congress, March 31, 1999 delegates from National Federations unanimously adopted new FINA Doping Control Rules.

The existing rules have been improved and clarified in order to respond to present day requirements especially with regards to legal issues.

The Congress approved the creation of a FINA Doping Control Review Board that will deal specifically with doping matters. The FINA Medical Committee will continue their work on medical aspects related with our sport.

Cannabis (marijuana) has been dropped from FINA's list of banned substances for out-of-competition drug testing. Ross Wales, FINA vice-president and legal advisor, said cannabinoids will no longer be targeted in out of competition testing but will remain banned during competition.

"It is because it may have performance-enhancing effects during competition for some athletes under some circumstances".

"But it is not a performance-enhancing substance as perhaps steroids may be, that allow and athlete over time to become stronger or faster," he said.

FINA will ask swimmers to undergo voluntary blood testing during the championships to help in the research program by the GH2000 Group. Blood testing has been found to be more reliable in detecting drugs like human growth hormone and EPO which currently cannot be detected through traditional method of urine samples.

FINA Bureau member Sam Ramsamy said tests must first be done an experimental basis because there are ethical and legal considerations standing in the way.

"Sadly, blood tests might reveal a positive HIV (AIDS) and other diseases which some swimmers don't want others to know," said Ramsamy.

"This would bring up legal issues. We must be very careful on this," Ramsamy added.