FINA has banned Croatian Olympic gold medal-winning water polo player Niksa Dobud from competition for 4 years for allegedly evading a doping control test.
The test was an out-of-competition test that came just one day after a road match in the Water Polo League. On March 20th, 2015, Dobud was with the Croatian water polo team, competing against Montenegro in the city of Budva, Montenegro.
Dobud was drug tested (an in-competition test) that night, but did not take the team bus back to Croatia.
That’s where the issue begins. Dobud originally claimed that providing his sample for that in-competition test took long enough that he couldn’t make the team bus, and chose to stay in Budva for the night. But at the hearing Dobud said he had returned to his home city of Dubrovnik, and merely went out for drinks with friends, returning home at around 5 in the morning.
A doping control agent showed up at Dobud’s house around 6:45 that morning (March 21st), and says Dobud’s wife answered the door and went back inside to wake Dobud up.
The doping control agent says Dobud came to the door, but when he was told he was being drug tested, he shut the door and refused to let the doping control agent inside. The agent says he continued knocking on the door for several hours, until 9 AM, trying to explain to Dobud that refusing to take the test would count as a failed doping test.
Dobud, though, had his own version of the story. He says his wife’s brother was staying with his wife, helping her take care of the couple’s baby while Dobud was away. He says the doping control agent mistook his wife’s brother for him, and that it wasn’t Dobud trying to avoid a doping control test.
Dobud says he was in the adjoining apartment, which was empty. He says he entered that apartment so as not to wake up his family when he arrived home at 5 in the morning.
FINA, though, expressed doubts about Dobud’s story after an appeal process, noting that his story had changed between the first letter he sent to FINA and the official hearing a few weeks later.
So FINA ultimately handed Dobud a 4-year suspension, beginning on April 13, 2015 and extending through April 12, 2019.
You can read the full FINA doping control report here.
Dobud was a member of the 2012 Olympic gold medal-winning water polo team for Croatia, but will be ineligible to help his team’s repeat bid next summer in Rio.