March 21, 2008 / 2:10 PM / 11 years ago

Swimming champion Cavic banned over t-shirt slogan

EINDHOVEN, Netherlands (Reuters) - Serbian gold medalist Milorad Cavic has been banned from further individual events at the European championships for wearing a t-shirt with a political slogan at his victory ceremony, European swimming’s governing body LEN said on Friday.

Serbian gold medallist Milorad Cavic of Serbia wears a T-shirt which reads, "Kosovo is Serbia" during his 50 meter butterfly victory ceremony at the European Swimming Championships in Eindhoven March 19, 2008. Cavic has been banned from further individual events at the European swimming championships for wearing a T-shirt with a political slogan. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

The Serbian swimming federation was fined 7,000 euros ($10,820).

American-based Cavic wore the t-shirt bearing the words “Kosovo is Serbia” in his own language on Wednesday after breaking the European 50 meters butterfly record for the second time in two days to win Serbia’s first European swimming title.

Serbia are not due to swim the two remaining men’s relays, so he is effectively out of the championships.

LEN said in a statement that its disciplinary panel found “that the inscription on the t-shirt worn by the Serbian athlete Mr Milorad Cavic constitutes a clear political action in violation of the LEN Guidelines for Safety and Security at LEN Events.”

The Serbian news agency Tanjug quoted sports minister Snezana Samardzic-Markovic as saying the decision was “scandalous” and “a great injustice”.

Erik van Heijningen, chairman of the organization committee for the championships, said the Dutch organizers had alerted LEN to the breach of rules in a report.

Cavic, who was born in Anaheim, California, and lives in Islamorada, Florida, had been due to swim in the 100m freestyle heats on Friday and had the fastest entry time for the 100 butterfly heats on Saturday.

Cavic, 23, was sixth in both the 50 and 100 butterfly at the 2007 world championships in Melbourne. The 100 butterfly is an Olympic event but the 50 butterfly is not.

Kosovo, which has a predominantly ethnic Albanian population, declared unilateral independence from Serbia last month. The United States, France, Germany, Britain and Canada have recognized Kosovo but Russia is opposed.

editing by Justin Palmer

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