The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) dismissed an appeal by Croatian water polo player Niksa Dobud this week, upholding a 4-year suspension handed down by FINA last spring.
The suspension comes from an out-of-competition test that Dobud evaded in March of 2015, according to the CAS decision.
On March 20, 2015, Dobud and the Croatian National Team competed against Montenegro in Budva, Montenero, winning 12 to 11. Dobud was selected for an in-competition doping control test after the match.
Dobud wasn’t able to provide a urine sample right away, and the team bus left before he had provided the sample.
Dobud eventually did provide a sample, which was tested and came back negative for any banned substances.
The issue, though, comes with an out-of-competition test that happened to fall on the next day after the in-competition test.
Dobud’s in-competition test lasted until 8:30 p.m. According to the CAS decision, Dobud met up with friends for dinner and drinks after the test, and eventually took a taxi to his hometown of Dubrovnik, Croatia at around 5:30 a.m.
Per FINA doping control rules, Dobud had filed “whereabouts” paperwork for out-of-competition testing – this paperwork tells doping control agents where the athlete will be during a one-hour period each day so that agents can find the athlete if he is selected for an out-of-competition test. Dobud had reported that he would be home between 7 and 8 a.m.
Doping control officers arrived at Dobud’s house at 6:44 a.m. on the morning of March 21. When they knocked, Dobud’s wife answered the door.
Per FINA’s original decision, the doping control agent says Dobud came to the door after his wife, but when he found out he was being drug tested, he shut the door and would not open up even when the doping control agents continued to knock for more than two hours, until 9 a.m.
Dobud says the man who answered the door was his brother-in-law, and the doping control agent mistook the his brother-in-law for Dobud. Dobud says he was asleep in the next-door apartment – an empty space he was permitted to use by the landlord. Dobud says he slept in that apartment to avoid waking up his wife when he returned home at 5:30 a.m.
FINA expressed doubts about Dobud’s side of the story and slapped him with a four-year suspension. Dobud appealed to CAS, but CAS agreed with FINA, dismissing the appeal and upholding the suspension.
Dobud will remain suspended through April 12 of 2019.