Cielo escapes doping ban
Shanghai - Olympic sprint king Cesar Cielo was left free to defend his two world titles after escaping a drugs ban on Thursday that would have ruled him out of the world swimming championships.
Arbitration officials dismissed an appeal by world swimming body FINA, allowing the 24-year-old double world record holder to compete in Shanghai.
Cielo, Nicholas dos Santos and Henrique Barbosa were all let off with warnings after they tested positive for a banned diuretic. But team-mate Vinicus Waked was banned for a year for a second drugs violation.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) announced the decision one day after a six-hour hearing in Shanghai, days before Cielo will defend his 50m and 100m crowns at the world championships.
"The CAS panel... decided to dismiss the appeals filed by FINA against Cesar Cielo, Henrique Barbosa and Nicholas Dos Santos and to confirm the (Brazilian federation's) decision concerning them," said a statement on the body's website.
The four swimmers tested positive for furosemide, which can be used to mask performance-enhancing drugs and is banned by the World Anti-Doping Authority, at Brazil's national championships.
CAS said the four blamed a contaminated caffeine supplement for the test results, adding that it would issue a detailed statement in the next few weeks.
The CAS decision is a major boost for the world championships, which has seen the build-up to the blue riband swimming events clouded by the potential doping ban for one of swimming's biggest stars.
Cielo took 50m freestyle gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in an Olympic record time of 21.30 seconds.
The following year he bagged the 50m and 100m titles at the Rome worlds, breaking the championships record in the 50m and setting a new world mark of 46.91 in the 100m.
He continued his astonishing run of success in December that year, smashing the 50m world mark on home ground in Sao Paulo, touching in 20.91sec.
And last year he underlined his dominance in the sprint events, winning the 50m freestyle and 100m freestyle at the short course world championships.
Cielo had previously called the positive "an isolated case".
"At no moment was I careless or negligent," he said in a statement after the positive test was announced earlier this month. "I do not use any medication or supplement without assuring myself of the safety of using it."
He was let off with a warning by the Brazilian federation.
But unhappy with that decision, FINA took the case to CAS, calling for bans and for the swimmers to be stripped of all their results since they failed the tests in May.
Governing body FINA has tightened its anti-doping procedures at the Shanghai championships by reintroducing blood testing, alongside urine sampling, for the first time since 2005.
FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu also issued a reminder that athletes had to take responsibility for all the vitamins and food supplements they consume.
And Chinese officials issued a list of designated restaurants where athletes can avoid the risk of contamination by banned clenbuterol, which Chinese farmers sometimes feed to their pigs.