The International Amateur Athletic Federation has reduced to 18 months its bans on American discus-thrower Ben Plucknett and Australian shot-putter Gael Mulhall, both charged with having taken anabolic steriods, IAAF President Primo Nebiolo announced yesterday.

Nebiolo also said that Swedish sprinter Linda Haglund had been banned for life on the same charge. Plucknett was stripped of his world record of 237 feet 4 inches in the discus following the "lifetime" ban earlier this year.

Just last week, at a meeting in Reno, Nev., The Athletics Congress, the governing body for the sport in the United States, approved ratification of Plucknett's record. "We are aware of the Americans' decision, but it is quite questionable," Nebiolo said. "It is based on the interpretation that IAAF disqualifications count only for international events, whereas the world record was set at a local meet."

The IAAF also has taken a first step toward recognizing payments to athletes through "trust funds," which include money from sponsors, industries and organizers, Nebiolo said.

Nebiolo said that part of the money could be given to the athletes during their careers "to help them with training and expenses, and the rest when they retire."

The funds will be controlled by the national federations. Each federation will set its own rules, on the basis of national interests, tradition and its "internal setup."