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Subirats Free To Go - Questions For CAS

Aug 26, 2011  - Craig Lord

The era of professionalism in swimming has not quite dawned - and if it had, then the Venezuelan swimmer Albert Subirats would surely now be engaging lawyers to sue for restraint of trade in the midst of a muddle of inconsistent decision in the realm of anti-doping.

In short, Subirats missed the world championships last month because he was reported to have missed three anti-doping tests. In fact, his federation failed to file the paperwork, and FINA did what it had to do in such cases: follow the letter of the law because that is the fair thing to do. Now, CAS says that Subirats was not to blame and he is free of his year-long suspension and free to race on. 

FINA today issued the following statement. 

Lausanne (SUI), August 26, 2011 - Following the information appeared in some media related with the case of swimmer Albert Subirats (VEN), FINA would like to clarify that:

1. According to a FINA Doping Panel decision on June 21, 2011 , a one-year suspension was imposed to swimmer Albert Subirats (VEN) following three whereabouts failures;

2. The swimmer appealed of this decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), in accordance with FINA Rules;

3. The CAS Arbitrator, on August 25, 2011 decided to cancel the FINA sanction and to waive any suspension to swimmer Albert Subirats (VEN).

All of that unfolded against a backdrop of the latest four Brazilians to return positive doping tests, among them Cesat Cielo (BRA), who, courtesy of a CAS ruling, did get to race at the world championships and took home a couple of dash crowns.

The questions for CAS and all involved in seeking fairness and more rigour in the anti-doping system is clear: 

  • why, when the Subirats case was known before the Cielo case, did CAS not rush to sit in session in order that the Venezuelan  could swim in Shanghai last month (different treatment for differest swimmers, once more)
  • which officials from the Venezuelan federation were sanctioned - and what sanction did they receive?

Some argue that such cases show that individual cases and circumstances count while others note that precedent is also at play in such cases: swimmers now know that if they find a doctor to say they were psychologically vulnerable for a few weeks one year or if a federation fails to file paperwork in time, three strikes and you're out is no longer worth the paper it is written on.