Italian backstroker Simone Sabbioni has been given a 20-month suspension from the Italian Anti-Doping Organization for a Whereabouts failure. The suspension is back-dated to March 23, 2022 and his suspension will expire on November 22, 2023.
Under the terms of the World Anti-Doping Code, athletes must provide information about where they can be found for random out-of-competition drug testing, including a 60-minute time slot each day where they must be available and accessible for testing. Missing three tests in a 12-month period is considered an anti-doping rules violation.
The 26-year-old Sabbioni last competed in March 2022, so the suspension won’t result in any lost results.
Sabbioni is a three-time European Champion in short course meters, including an individual gold in the 50 backstroke in 2017. He was also the Italian Record holder in the 100 backstroke in short course meters until October of this year. That record has been broken twice since then.
Other major international accomplishments for Sabbioni includes three European Championship medals in long course, including individual bronze in 2016; a 2014 European Junior Championship in the 50 backstroke; and a 2014 Youth Olympic Games gold medal in the 100 backstroke. He tied there with Evgeny Rylov, who is the current Olympic Champion in that event.
Sabbioni competed at the 2016 and 2020 Summer Olympic Games for Italy. Last summer, in Tokyo, he finished 17th individually in the 100 backstroke. Italy opted not to use him on a prelims medley relay, instead leaving the same four swimmers on for heats and finals en route to a bronze medal.
As Italy’s #2 men’s sprint backstroker, the country now has a challenge of depth moving forward. Next up on that list is Michele Lamberti, who was 54.14 in 2021, and Matteo Restivo, who was 54.39 in 2021. Neither was faster in 2022.
They both sit behind Thomas Ceccon, the new World Record holder in the event at 51.60 from this year’s World Championships. The next young talent in the rankings is Nicolo’ Accadia, who swam 55.27 this summer at the European Junior Championships at 18-years old.
While ‘whereabouts’ failures were historically rare among high profile swimmers (Albert Subirats in 2011 being the exception), more recently we have seen more of them. In the last few years, that includes names like Santo Condorelli, Isabel Gormley, and Ruta Meilutyte.
The length of these suspensions have varied: Gormley was given a 12-month suspension by the US Anti-Doping Authority, which is consistent with most of the suspensions that they have given out for similar infractions. FINA gave Condorelli, who is also Italian, an 18-month ban, and Meilutyte, a Lithuanian, a two-year suspension.