The 14th FINA World Championships get underway in Shanghai on July 16, with pool racing from July 24-31. Our daily round-up of snippets on the way to the big showdown:
Italy: the relationship between Federica Pellegrini, Italy's Olympic and double world champion, and medley swimmer Luca Marin is showing signs of strain, according to reports in Italy today. La Repubblica tells readers this morning that Pellegrini is said to be heading to world titles in Shanghai with emotional baggage in tow after a "small breach" opened in the three-year affair between the swimmers. The paper reports: "The coldness in the relationship between the two is apparent." The main question raised in Italy by the saga is this one: now that the Paris experience with coach Philippe Lucas (mentor to Laure Manaudou, a former player in a love triangle from 2007-08) is over, with Pellegrini saying that she will return full-time to Verona, who will take over the coaching of Italy's biggest aquatic assett? Federico Bonifacenti is the favourite candidate, according to La Repubblica, a paper that says there is reason to believe that La Fed will ride the storm, having come through her first break-up, from mentor coach to Alberto Castagnetti, then the death of Castagnetti, a shoulder injury, anorexia, panic attacks and Paris.
Brazil: The national swim team of Brazil leaves for holding camp in Macao today with Cesar Cielo alongside his teammates. The Olympic 50m free champion is hoping to defend his 50m and 100m crowns in Shanghai from July 24 but awaits a ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport over whether a Brazilian warning was penalty enough after he and three teammates tested positive for the diuretic furosemide back in May. Speculation in Brazil suggests that a 6-month ban may be imposed, which would cut Cielo out of action in Shanghai and open a debate over his eligibility to race at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Henrique Barbosa and Nicholas Santos have already forfeited their places in Shanghai, their qualification swims at the Maria Lenk Trophy in May having been rendered void, while Vinicius Waked, who did not gain selection for Shanghai action, was the fourth swimmer to test positive for the banned substance. Cielo's defence, that the adverse finding stemmed from cross-contamination of a food supplement, was accepted by Brazilian anti-doping authorities and the minimum penalty possible - a warning - was handed down to the swimmers. A suspension of up to two years was available under WADA rules. The cases highlight irregularities in the anti-doping regime, with the likes of Albert Subirats (VEN), who never tested positive, falling foul of his national federation's failure to submit whereabout details to anti-doping authorities and thus nursing a one-year suspension from the sport - and confined to watching Shanghai action on TV. Galling it must be to sit home and watch swimmers who have been shamed, sat out and returned from positive doping tests get to compete.
USA: Americans continue to warm-up for action in Shanghai as the big event draws ever closer. At the weekend in Gainesville, Ryan Lochte clocked 1:59.13 in the 200m medley, Peter Vanderkaay took the 400m free in 3.53.04, Dagny Knutson swam a 4:10.29 400 free, Elizabeth Beisel clocked times of 1:02.94 over 100m backstroke and 2:14.90 in the 200m medley. Over in Austin, comeback breaststroke ace Brendan Hansen, who will not race in Shanghai, put in a 1:01.59 effort over 100m.