May 9 and Vinicius Rocha Barbosa Waked (BRA) is back in the race pool just two days after anti-doping rules designed to deter cheats allowed him to return in the wake of going down as a cheat not once before but twice.
He may yet compete at the London 2012 Olympic Games too if Brazil's 4x200m free quartet make the cut when FINA decides where the quota axe falls next month. Waked makes his return against a backdrop of the failure of the likes of WADA, CAS and USOC to keep cheats out of the Olympic arena. Indeed, it may well be argued that those three bodies, each with a strong anti-doping responsibility, have gone out of their way to ensure that cheats get the chance to prosper (regardless of the level of remorse that may or may not have been shown), all three bodies having either briefed legal eagles or served in that role to demand that cheats be allowed a second chance.
For Waked, it will be chance number three. In Rio at a last-chance Olympic selection meet (the trials and championships proper were held just before the deadline for Waked was up), Joao de Lucca took the 200m free in 1:48.81, Waked second in 1:49.70, confirming that he spent his year suspended from the sport preparing for his return to a sport he has been banished from twice. Four others followed on 1:50s, among them former Brit swimmer Ben Hockin, now with Paraguay and on 1:50.56.
No idea, instantly, where that may leave Brazil's chances of making the 4x200m cut. We will know soon enough when FINA makes its official cut, one that will leave many an excellent swimmer in solo events locked out but keep in a relatively large number of swimmers who will be in London as a relay reserve.
Here's the CAS Statement from July 21 last year that reminds us of Waked's record in the sport:
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has rendered its decisions in the following cases concerning four Brazilian swimmers:
FINA v. Cesar Cielo & CBDA - FINA v. Nicholas dos Santos & CBDA - FINA v. Henrique Barbosa & CBDA - FINA v. Vinicus Waked & CBDA
Following a positive anti-doping control for the “specified substance” Furosemide, on 1 July 2011 the Brazilian Swimming Federation (CBDA) sanctioned each of the four swimmers with a warning. On 7 July 2011, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) filed appeals against such decisions requesting the CAS to impose an effective period of ineligibility on the athletes (3 months against Cielo, dos Santos and Barbosa, and 1 year against Waked).
With the agreement of all the parties concerned, the CAS conducted an expedited procedure and held a hearing in Shanghai on 20 July 2011 in the presence of the parties, their representatives and witnesses.
The CAS Panel composed of Alan Sullivan QC (Australia) President, Olivier Carrard (Switzerland) and Jeffrey Benz (USA) decided to dismiss the appeals filed by FINA against Cesar Cielo, Henrique Barbosa and Nicolas Dos Santos and to confirm the CBDA’s decision concerning them. The Panel upheld the appeal by FINA against Vinicus Waked and sanctioned the athlete with a one-year suspension, as a result of a second doping offence (Vinicus Waked was already sanctioned on 4 February 2010 with a two-month suspension following a positive test for a specified substance).
And here is how FINA registers the case:
Back in 2009, FINA reported:
So far this year, the international federation has reported two doping offences in swimming. Litvina Yuliya (KAZ) tested positive for Methylhexaneamine (Class S.6 Stimulants) on March 25 "following a doping control test conducted with the occasion of the Kazakhstan National Swimming Championships 2012" and was suspended for six months, her 2012 summer season over.
On March 11, Barbara Benke took Brazil's count of doping positives in the past two years to 10 in three years using the same substance that caught Waked out first time round.
Benke tested positive for Isometheptene (Class S.6 Stimulants) following an in competition test and was banned for four months. Brazilian tennis doubles specialist Marcelo Melo was suspended for the same substance back in 2007. Isometheptene is contained in analgesic medications used to help treat migraine headaches.
A Brazilian club doctor was expelled from football for life in 2007 by the country's Superior Court of Sports Justice (STJD): Carlos Eduardo Damasceno, doctor of the club Paulista, was found guilty of prescribing Neosaldina - which included isometheptene - to defender Ricardo Lopes, who had suffered a headache. At the time, Neosaldina appeared on a list of medication allowed by the Doping Control Regulations of the Brazilian Football Federation (CBF) - a mistake, the substance contained in the drug already on the WADA list of banned substances.
Waked's offences were not among the more serious on the list but were offences nonetheless and indicative of a poor level of anti-doping education in Brazil (surely a doctor banned for life would have been the kind of warning that entires sports communities would have posted on the locker door).
As he takes to the race pool once more just 48 hours after the rules say he can, his case and the recent determination of WADA and CAS to take selection policies out of the hands of individual nations in a way that serves to allow cheats back into the Olympic arena, presents us with a moment to reflect on whether the so-called fight against doping and cheats in sport is as serious as those running it say it is.
A moment too for Brazil, host Olympic nation in 2016, to reflect on its responsibility to improve anti-doping education and what has been a sorry record of late.
A trawl through swimming history (and a look at the German national record book as that nation takes to its blocks today in Berlin for Olympic trials) tells us the terrible truth of the matter: cheats prospered, took gold and medals of other colours, celebrated world records, faced shame but were never truly made to feel it, and very, very few were ever pressed to reveal the chain of crime in their case, to expose the doctors, coaches and others who stand in the shadows in their Pygmalion perversity - and all the while many of those beaten moved on in life never having had a second chance to show that it was they, in fact, who were the very best there was.