Controversy hits sailing in Sydney

Chinese withdraw both their Laser and Europe sailors, by Ed Gorman

Thursday September 14th 2000, Author: Ed Gorman, Location: United Kingdom
The Chinese announced on Thursday the withdrawal of both their Laser sailor, Sheng Shen, and their Europe representative, Chunjuan Xu, from the Olympic Games regatta at Rushcutter's Bay, amid speculation they had failed preliminary drug screening.

The Chinese Olympic team leader explained that both sailors had "missed their plane" to Sydney, an expression used last week in reference to other Chinese athletes who are alleged to have failed preliminary drug tests.

Australian Olympic officials would not speculate on why the sailors had withdrawn. However it is understood that neither had made it to the sailing venue and the Chinese Europe was not submitted for measurement while the Laser, which is supplied to competitors, was never collected.

Meanwhile, the Australian Tornado duo of Darren Bundock and John Forbes have dropped their attempts to persuade the ISAF and the International Jury of the legality of their trampoline. It had earlier been found to have holes which were too large and was ruled illegal.

The Australians have now fitted a conventional trampoline to their boat and have also added two-and-a-half kilograms of lead to bring it up to regulation weight.

In another measurement issue, Lai Shan Lee, the defending Olympic champion in the Women's Boards, has been allowed to race with a mast which is 30 grams overweight. Measurers waived the upper limit on mast weight because they could not see any advantage to Lee in having a heavier mast.

Glen Bourke, the Australian former three-time World Laser champion, who heads up the management team for the Olympic regatta, received fullsome praise from Jerome Pells on Thursday for the way in which the regatta site and the courses have been organised.

Speaking at the opening press conference at Rushcutter's Bay, Pells, the ISAF sailing manager who has liased with Bourke over the past four years, said, "Glen really understands what the sailors want and what ISAF want and we are very, very proud of what he and his team have achieved."

In his own opening remarks, Bourke revealed that in addition to his full-time core team, no less than 800 volunteers are now helping to make the sailing event progress smoothly.

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