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.

Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
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

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum