Category: Archive

De Bruin mayface lifetimeswimming ban

February 15, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mark Jones

DUBLIN – Ireland’s triple Olympic gold medalist, Michelle Smith de Bruin, could face a possible lifetime ban from swimming following confirmation that the second part of a random urine sample she submitted showed signs of tampering.

FINA, the world governing body of swimming, is now to consider disciplinary action. However, in a new twist to this long-running saga, the athlete’s lawyer has threatened legal action against FINA.

Peter Lennon, de Bruin’s Dublin-based solicitor, accused FINA of breaking its own rules and warned that if the charges of tampering were not dropped, he would be seeking a court injunction to prevent any disciplinary hearing from taking place.

The legal threat followed a statement from FINA that further tests on de Bruin’s urine sample had confirmed suspicions of tampering.

A previous analysis on the “A” portion of the sample from an out-of-competition test taken in Kilkenny last January had shown high levels of alcohol. The laboratory report referred to a “strong whiskey odor” when the sample was opened.

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Critically, that first analysis by the FINA laboratory in Barcelona, Spain, also reported signs of a precursor of testosterone, a banned procedure that promotes levels of testosterone in the athlete’s body. Yet, when the “B” sample was tested last week, there was no mention of the precursor, according to Lennon.

“The whole procedure is now null and void as FINA has failed to test for a testosterone precursor,” said Lennon, “the whole purpose of the testing procedure is to establish if there is the same banned substance in the “B” sample as in the “A” sample.

“So we have taken the view, based upon FINA’s own rules, that this is a negative finding and Michelle is entitled to the benefit of the reasonable doubt in this case and we have called on FINA to abandon this whole procedure,” Lennon said.

Lennon added that there was no evidence that de Bruin herself had interfered with the samples.

Once the swimmer has been officially notified of the findings, she will have 28 days to decide whether to lodge a request for a personal hearing before the FINA doping panel.

In the meantime, her competitive future could be decided either in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, or in the Swiss civil courts.

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