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In The Irish News - May 23 1998: De Bruin facing long legal battle to clear her name

Irish Olympic swimming champion Michelle De Bruin angrily rejected drugs allegations made against her by FINA and pledged to fight the charges all the way to protect her good name - and that of Ireland
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MICHELLE De Bruin looks set for a long-running legal battle to clear her name of a charge that she tried to fix a drugs test.

The solicitor for the triple Olympic champion has revealed that the B test on the urine sample she gave had backed up the findings of the A sample which contained a potentially lethal dose of alcohol.

FINA, swimming’s world governing body, said yesterday that it had not yet received the result of the back-up test but a spokesman confirmed De Bruin, nee Smith, could face a life ban for tampering with a test.

De Bruin’s case is now expected to come before FINA’s doping panel next month, but even if she is found guilty it is not likely to be the end of the matter.

The 28-year-old has said she would then appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, while a further move into the civil courts cannot be ruled out.

De Bruin’s defence looks set to rest on her call for the governing body to prove that she was the one who manipulated the sample.

A FINA spokesman said yesterday: “We have not yet had the result from the laboratory and until we do we cannot comment.

“When we have the result we will tell the swimmer first. We will then announce whether the matter will go before the doping panel.

“The penalty will be at the discretion of the panel, but for manipulation of a test it can be from zero to life.”

De Bruin’s solicitor Peter Lennon watched the analysis of the twin samples along with a biochemist from a Dublin hospital in the International Olympic Committee accredited laboratory in Barcelona that carried out the original test.

In a statement in yesterday’s London Times, Lennon said: “It appears clear at this time that our client can only be charged with physical manipulation and not the use of any banned substance... we do not expect there to be any change between the adulterisation results of the A and B sample.”

The Dublin-born swimmer added that she was “more determined than ever to fight any charges that may be formally brought against her.”

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THE GAA may avoid division over the proposal to scrap its ban on British security forces by opting to suspend the controversial Rule 21. The new suspension motion has been proposed by the association’s management committee, which includes Ulster representatives and the president Joe McDonagh.

It is believed the motion may have a greater chance of success at the May 30 meeting of the GAA congress if it is supported by the Ulster delegates, who have not come out in support of the original motion to abolish the rule.

It is understood the suspension motion would let Rule 21 disappear, with the option of re-instating it should future circumstances dictate.

It is unclear, however, what majority is required for the new suspension motion.

A Croke Park spokesman confirmed that two thirds is needed for any change in the rule, but said it is to be decided by congress whether a suspension could be passed by a simple majority.

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SENSEI Oliver Brunton, from Belfast, Chief Instructor of the Northern Ireland Wado-Kai, has become the first European in both the United Kingdom and Ireland to be awarded the grade of sixth Dan (sixth level black belt) by the Japanese Karate Federation.

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