SHANGHAI (AP) — Olympic and world champion Cesar Cielo was cleared to compete at the world championships Thursday after the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld a decision by the Brazilian swimming federation.
Swimming governing body FINA challenged a Brazilian federation decision to give Cielo only a warning after he tested positive for furosemide, a banned diuretic and masking agent, at a meet in Rio de Janeiro in May.
Cielo said he consumed the drug in a contaminated batch of a food supplement he regularly used.
“He’s obviously happy about it and is looking forward to competing at worlds,” Cielo’s lawyer, Howard Jacobs, told The Associated Press. “It wasn’t just FINA that wanted this case expedited — he also needed to agree for an expedited trial and he wanted it to be cleared up so he could compete and have no questions.”
Jacobs said the physician who prescribed the caffeine pills testified during the CAS hearing.
“The arbitrators agreed there was no intent to cheat and no performance enhancing,” Jacobs said. “They accepted the explanation that the supplements were contaminated. It’s good now that the arbitrators can distinguish from case to case when an athlete tries to cheat or not.”
Decisions for two other Brazilian swimmers — Nicholas Santos and Henrique Barbosa — also were upheld, while Vinicius Waked, who previously served a two-month ban for a separate doping offense, got a one-year ban. FINA had appealed for three-month bans for Cielo, Santos and Barbosa; and requested a one-year ban for Waked.
“I respect the decision of the CAS — they are the last legal resort in sports,” FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu told The Associated Press. “I’m not satisfied but I think we have done our job.”
The CAS panel was specially assembled in Shanghai to deliver a verdict before Cielo is scheduled to compete in the freestyle relay Sunday. Cielo also will attempt to defend his world titles in the 50- and 100- meters freestile races and is entered in the 50 butterfly.
Cielo trained at the Oriental Sports Center earlier Thursday.
South Africa’s Roland Schoeman, the sprinter who won three gold medals in the 2005 and 2007 worlds, wasn’t pleased with the ruling. “FINA and the CAS have done a great disservice to the world of swimming & set a dangerous precedent,” Schoeman tweeted.
American sprinter Nathan Adrian, a medal threat in some of the races that Cielo will compete in, wasn’t aware of the CAS decision when asked for comment by the AP.
“I don’t check the news. I just have to focus on being the fastest,” Adrian said. “To be completely honest, the only thing I can control is myself. It could have been a pretty big distraction, the reigning world champion in a kind of limbo. So I kind of made a decision to block it out of my mind.”
All four swimmers attended the hearing Wednesday at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, although only Cielo has qualified to compete in the meet.