Friday, March 21, 2008

EarthTimes: "Serbia's Euro-champ suspended over Kosovo shirt"

Belgrade - Belgrade said Friday the European Swimming Federation (LEN) decision to suspend the Serbian champion Milorad Cavic over a shirt with a political message was "scandalous."

"Great injustice was inflicted on our swimmer after he revealed his opinion ... that Kosovo is a part of Serbia," Sports Minister (Ms.) Snezana Samardzic-Markovic told the Tanjug news agency.

Cavic was suspended from the rest of the European Swimming Championship in Eindhoven, Holland, because he wore a shirt saying "Kosovo is Serbia" after winning the 50-metre butterfly race, setting a new European record.

The decision has ruled out Cavic's bid for gold in 100m butterfly and freestyle races. The decision could not be appealed, reports said.

"He is particularly disappointed because he has been feeling so well," his manager Petar Popovic said, describing the LEN decision as "unsensible and unexpected.""

He is in excellent form and hardly anybody could have resisted him," Popovic said.
"it was implied that Cavic was politically active, but I think it is LEN dabbing in politics much more," the manager said. "I wonder what they would have said if he wore a shirt saying 'Free Tibet'."

He was also fined 7,000 euros for violating security and safety rules prohibiting political activity in sports, Tanjug quoted LEN as saying.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February and was recognized by leading Western nations. Serbia rejects the independence and is backed by many of its athletes, such as tennis star Novak Djokovic.

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