Swimming: Arbitrators uphold ban on De Bruin

MICHELLE DE BRUIN, the Irishwoman who as Michelle Smith swam from obscurity into the record books when she won three gold medals at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, last night had a four-year ban upheld by sport's international arbitration court. At 29, and with her credibility seemingly terminally damaged, the announcement could effectively mark the end of De Bruin's controversial career.

De Bruin had appealed to the Court for Arbitration in Sport after she was suspended last August by Fina, the international swimming federation, for tampering with a urine sample from an out-of-competition test conducted at her Kilkenny home in January last year. According to the testing officers, De Bruin's sample smelled strongly of whiskey, and subsequent laboratory analysis discovered a high level of alcohol in the sample.

Under international swimming rules, manipulating a urine sample carries the same four-year penalty as a positive drug test for anabolic steroids.

De Bruin, who has always denied the charges against her, is married to the former discus thrower, Erik de Bruin, a former Dutch champion who was banned from athletics for four years after testing positive for drugs. Her case was heard at the beginning of last month by a panel of three experienced sports lawyers, including the Briton, Michael Beloff QC.

Uniquely for a CAS hearing, De Bruin's case was heard in public, at her own lawyer's request. Thus, it became known that three samples, taken between November 1997 and March 1998, had shown signs of the body-building drug androstenedione.

De Bruin's ban, however, is for tampering, rather than for drug use. A statement from CAS's Lausanne offices last night read: "Based on the facts of the case, and the evidence before them, the arbitrators were of the opinion that Fina had convinced them that Smith-de Bruin was the only person who had the motive and opportunity to manipulate the samples."

Gunnar Werner, the secretary of Fina, said: "Manipulation is a bad crime. It is more or less two abuses in one - manipulating samples to cover up something else."

The CAS decision should be binding on both De Bruin and Fina. De Bruin's only possible appeal might be to a Swiss federal court or the European Court of Justice. De Bruin's Dublin lawyer, Peter Lennon, was unavailable for comment.

The decision was taken as vindication for the husband and wife team of doping control officers, Al and Kay Guy, whose role in the affair had been placed under close scrutiny by De Bruin's defence. "It's a great relief because we felt we were on trial," Kay Guy said. "It marks the end of what has been a very difficult year."

Although De Bruin had always been an outstanding swimmer by Irish standards, she did not make an impact internationally until four years ago. Her best result in a career stretching back to the 1988 Seoul Olympics was to make a world championship consolation final.

Then, in 1995, two years after De Bruin, her then boyfriend, had taken over her coaching, Smith became the first Irish swimmer to win a European title. The following year, in Atlanta, she astonished the swimming world when - at 24, a veteran by swimming standards - she won gold medals in the 400 metres freestyle and 200m and 400m individual medley events, plus a bronze in the 200m butterfly.

De Bruin maintained her innocence, claiming she was tested regularly and often. When the Fina testers arrived at her home last January, it was their third attempt to take a sample from her after two failures.

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Sport
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower