Tunisian swimmer Ous Mellouli, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, has announced his retirement from competitive swimming just days before he was scheduled to compete in his 6th Olympic Games.
Mellouli was scheduled to race the open water 10km event at the World Championships after finishing 10th in the final qualifying event in Setubal, Portugal in June. That’s significant because those races are limited to 25 entrants, so Mellouli’s scratch means the race will be one short – at 24 entrants – of the allowed field.
Had Mellouli declined his spot sooner, Sweden’s Elliot Sodemann, who was 14th at the Olympic Marathon Qualifier event, would have been in line to receive that spot.
Mellouli was not entered in any pool races for Tokyo.
The retirement comes amid a dispute with the Tunisian Swimming Federation, Mellouli, and his mom.
The federation has accused the 37-year old Mellouli and his mother Khadija Mellouli of forgery.
The accusations revolve around funding that Ous Mellouli receives from the national federation to continue his training. As part of the arrangement, Mellouli sends invoices to the federation to justify the payments.
At some point, that relationship went south when the national federation began to doubt these invoices and accused Mellouli and his mother of forgery.
Ous Mellouli initially said that he had been summoned to court in the matter 2 weeks ahead of the Olympic Games, interrupting his travel plans. Later, however, the Ministry of Youth and Sport said in a statement that because his mother is the complainant in the case, Ous’ presence was optional.
Nonetheless, Ous Mellouli says that he will retire from international competition anyway.
“After a month of ordeal, I lose all hope of reconciliation or of winning my case. So I decided to retire from international competitions and boycott the Tokyo Games,” Mellouli said on Instagram in French.
Mellouli won a gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in the 1500 meter free in the pool, and at the 2012 Olympics he added a gold medal in the open water 10km race and a bronze in the 1500 free. That made him the first swimmer to win medals in both open water and the pool in a single Olympics.
He studied computer science while racing collegiately at USC in the United States.
It’s really smart to take a selfie in a convertible when you’re in a money dispute.
LA gonna LA.
Sometimes you just gotta stunt ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Long live a trailblazer and the first American-trained 1500m winner since 1984
Dude was suspended for 18 months for a banned substance (Adderall). So let’s not go all-in with his glory.
Tested positive for Adderall at a training meet (the US Open in November). Admitted it was taken for academic reasons which totally checks out with the timing and substance (not taking adderall to dope at the US Open lol) and has totally owned up to it as a mistake. He spoke to my club team and really is a great ambassador for the sport and an incredible athlete.
I am always amazed that he also swam a textile 3:57 short course 400IM. Truly one of the most versatile and technically proficient swimmers.
With you on this one. If he wasn’t representing a country that would just send him at their discretion without any trials, he wouldn’t even have raced in Beijing and Hackett would have a 3-peat. I know what I had preferred
I can tell you he had every intention of attending the Olympics. He trained incredibly hard at altitude to get ready for the qualifying event in Portugal. I am saddened by this turn of events.
How much were the invoices at altitude?
Less (O2) than at sea level.
A shame for all of this to happen now. He was one of the last swimmers who was still active to compete in Sydney 2000. Unfortunate to see this era nearly coming to an end.
I would like to see him swim in his hometown of LA in 2028.
But he was on holiday for 18 months.
Kind of a dick move to do this so close to the games with little to no chance of finding a replacement.
Especially in OW with only 25 spots and a LOT of heartbreak for athletes during the qualifying process.
Legend as he is with golds both in and out of the pool, with the adderal suspension, the alleged foul play in the big field in Rio and now this, I cant help but NOT hold him in such high regards as his achievements would justify.
This move makes him seem guilty, if he did nothing wrong then go compete and have your name cleared when the trial is done
Reread his experience. You are not connecting the dots yet..
I don’t think that’s how the justice system works in Tunisia…
I was a timer at a meet a few years back in Fullerton, he was in my lane and I was astonished at his strength and speed. After the first 100 he just left everyone behind.
Probably the most unique career I’ve ever seen for such a high-level swimmer. Legend in his own right.