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2 April 1998, Sydney:

Twenty-three-year-old Australian swimmer Richard Upton who was tested positive for drugs last month has been let off the hook.

Upton expressed relief upon escaping the ban: "The last four weeks have been really tough. I didn't really know how Australian Swimming would treat what I did and how they'd take this but I'm very relieved with the result."

"This all shows that I'm not a drug cheat but I have made a mistake and I guess that's why they punished me. I didn't think I'd get off free because I knew that I'd done something wrong," he added.

Although Upton escapes the ban, he will still be fined A$2,000 and issued a severe reprimand by Australian Swimming Incorporated for taking probenecid, a prohibited masking agent for steroids.

Australian Swimming officials do not think that the sanction will be overthrown by world swimming body FINA.

"We have had advice from FINA on this issue. They advised us to handle it virtually the way that we have," Australian Swimming president Terry Gathercole said.

However, he admitted that an international backlash might occur as a result of Upton's escape of the ban.

"I doubt they are sniggering behind their hands and saying 'Ho-ho, Australia's got one' after the strong stance we've taken," he said.

Australia was harsh in her criticism of banning four Chinese tested positive for diuretic use during the world championships this year.

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