Earlier today, Cesar Cielo revealed on his personal blog that he and three of his Brazilian teammates had received warnings after a positive test for furosemide, a substance used in the treatement of heart disease and edema, and also as a diuretic. The drug itself is not a performance enhancer, but was banned by FINA because it can be used to mask the presence of other performance enhancers.
According to FINA rule DC 10.4, these “masking agents,” when it can be proven by the athlete that the intent was not to mask other performance enhancers, can be accompanied by a minimum sentence of no-time.
The other athletes to test positive at the Maria Lenk Trophy were Nicholas Santos, Henrique Barbosa, and Vinicius Waked. Santos and Barbosa are scheduled to join Cielo in Shanghai for the World Championships later this month.
This is the second time in as many weeks that the CBDA, Brazil’s governing body for aquatic sports, has handed out a relatively light punishment. Previously, they handed Fabiola Molina only a two-month ban after a positive test for Methylhexaneamine.
Cielo claimed innocence, and that his positive test was the result of a tainted supplement, which seems to be the reasoning behind every positive drug test as of late. In this particular instance, the pharmacy that prepared the supplement has taken the full blame for the contamination of an otherwise legal supplement (unlike in the Jessica Hardy case, where the supplement makers still deny culpability).
The pharmacy, in Cielo’s local hometown of Santa Bárbara D’Oeste, says that Cielo requested an emergency preparation of his dietary supplement prior to travel. In their haste to prepare his order, they stopped what they were doing and neglected to practice proper handling and cleaning practices.
In this event, it’s perfrectly plausible that the pharmacy was to blame (Cielo’s teammates all shared in this sample). For them to admit such a gross error could result in them being shut down permanantly, and it would’ve taken a pretty-huge payoff for them to take the fall for this case (even for a hometown hero like Cielo). The lab could also face criminal charges.
FINA now has 20 days to decide whether the CBDA’s findings were sufficient, or if they want to impose additional punishment on either athlete (or request further information). In this instance, given the acceptances of cross-contamination they’ve accepted in the past, it would be difficult for them to overturn the CBDA’s ruling.
Additionally, Cielo underwent a standard blood test during the Michigan Grand Prix and a blood test at the Paris Open. Assuming those tests come back negative, Cielo’s explanation of cross-contamination is certainly reasonable. Also, the level of his urine’s pH was unaltered, meaning that the amount of furosemide wasn’t high enough to actually mask anything else. This gives credence to the claims that this was simply a case of cross-contamination.
Assuming FINA upholds the CBDA’s ruling, Cielo will contest to defend his World Championship title in both the 50 and 100 freestyles.