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Japan pours cold water on swimmers

Oct 23,2009
TOKYO - Japan’s swimmers could face lifetime bans if they dye their hair, wear an earring or have brightly decorated fingernails. Japanese officials have launched a strict policy to prevent athletes turning up for competitions looking more like rock stars than swimmers.

Male and female swimmers caught sneaking into each others’ rooms at Japanese training camp, where the sexes have separate sleeping quarters, will also find themselves in hot water.

“The United States and Australia are also setting these criteria,” Masafumi Izumi, the executive director of the Japan Swimming Federation, told local media on Wednesday. “We have had many recent controversies [in Japan] with marijuana in sport and at universities, and this is about swimming taking a stand on its own initiative,” Izumi said.

The JSF’s stringent new plan has been written into its charter following an executive board meeting on Tuesday and swimmers will have to sign a letter of oath. Rule-breakers face being booted out of the team and sent home in disgrace, a suspension of up to five years or even a lifetime ban.

“It is more an enhancement of the rules,” the JSF told Reuters. “It’s a policy top swimming countries like Australia and the Americans follow.”

Meanwhile, JSF officials are hoping to persuade Japan’s swimming champion Kosuke Kitajima to compete in next year’s Pan Pacific championships in California and the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. Kitajima will return to competition next month, ending a 15-month break since last year’s Beijing Games. Reuters



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