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Tuesday, September 19, 2000
Uzbek official will fight charge

 SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- An Uzbek Olympic official accused of illegally importing a banned performance-enhancing substance will plead innocent to the charges, his lawyer said.

 Track and field coach Sergei Voynov is free to stay in the Olympic Village with the Uzbek team after he was granted bail Tuesday, but he was ordered to appear in court Sept. 25.

 Voynov, 45, was served a summons last week after Customs officers said they found 15 vials of the banned muscle-building drug human growth hormone in his luggage at Sydney airport.

 Team officials said Voynov brought the drug into Australia as part of treatment he was seeking for a skin disorder that causes baldness.

 Voynov did not appear at a brief court hearing Tuesday (Monday night EDT).

 Instead, Australian lawyers acting for him asked Magistrate Jennifer Giles to adjourn the case to another date and grant bail to allow him to stay with the Uzbek team. Lawyers for Australian Customs said they did not oppose bail, despite noting that Voynov was planning to leave the country Sept. 27.

 Under Australian state laws, magistrates have the power to order suspects to hand in their passports if the court believes there is a flight risk.

 Under laws passed in March, a person caught illegally importing a performance-enhancing drug into Australia could face a maximum penalty of five years in prison or a fine of $54,000.

 Olympic officials have said they could withdraw Voynov's accreditation if it is determined he was improperly carrying human growth hormone, or HGH.

 Uzbek National Olympic Committee president Sabuirjan Ruziev said last week Voynov has a skin disorder called Alopecia capitis totalis, or total baldness of the scalp, and that Voynov had treatment with the drug Somatotropine before coming to Sydney.

 An Uzbek NOC doctor said Somatotropine contained HGH.

 "He brought it for himself because he is sick," said Ruziev.

 He said Voynov does not speak English and did not understand the questions on the Customs form he turned in upon arrival in Sydney. Voynov voluntarily informed customs officers he had the drug, Rusiev said.
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