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Serbian swimmer Milorad Cavic was suspended from the 2008 European Championships
Serbian swimmer Milorad Cavic was suspended from the 2008 European Championships in Eindhoven Friday for wearing a t-shirt during a medal ceremony with a political message.

The 23-year-old European champion, who lives in the U.S., collected Serbia's first swimming gold medal on Wednesday for the 50-meter butterfly wearing a t-shirt with the slogan "Kosovo is Serbia" written in Serbian.

"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," said the sport's governing body.

In addition, the European swimming body, which represents 51 national European swimming federations, fined the Serbian Swimming Federation 7,000 euros ($10,800).

"I didn't do it to provoke violence," Cavic said, adding he just wanted to send a positive message to Serbs.

Serbian President Boris Tadic in his statement called the decision to suspend Cavic from further participation in the competition a great injustice.

"Milorad Cavic by his gesture didn't want to politicize a great European competition involving politics in sports," the statement says. "His gesture was guided by a feeling of injustice."

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica called on "reasonable and responsible people" at LEN to give Cavic another opportunity "to carry on with his victories and to set new European records."

He added, that the whole of Serbia would be very proud of his victory, as the slogan reminded people that under the UN charter Kosovo was officially a part of Serbia.

Kosovo, with a 90% ethnic Albanian majority, declared independence from Serbia on February 17. The U.S. and the vast majority of EU states have since acknowledged its sovereignty.

Mass protests have been held in Serbia and its provinces ever since. One of their main slogans is "Kosovo is Serbia."


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