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Mellouli given 18-month suspension

  • Story Highlights
  • Tunisian swimmer Oussama Mellouli is suspended for 18 months by the CAS
  • Mellouli admits taking an amphetamine prior to finishing his university diploma
  • He has been stripped of his world 800m gold medal but can compete in Beijing
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Tunisian swimmer Oussama Mellouli has been banned for 18 months -- and stripped of the gold and silver medals he won at the world championships -- for a doping violation.

Mellouli has been stripped of the gold medal he won at the world championships in March.

Mellouli, who tested positive for amphetamines at a meeting in Indiana on November 30, 2006, was suspended by the Court of Arbitration for Sport after an appeal for a two-year ban was filed by swimming's world governing body (FINA).

The ban, which dates back to the time of the doping offense, leaves Mellouli eligible to compete at next year's Beijing Olympics.

Mellouli won gold in the 800 meter freestyle and silver in the 400m freestyle in March at the world championships in Melbourne, Australia. He was the first Tunisian to win a gold medal.

The CAS ruled that those medals and all of Mellouli's results back to November 30, 2006, are annulled. However, they decided against the two-year ban because Mellouli, who was studying at Southern California at the time of the positive test, admitted he took the substance.

"The swimmer admitted taking an Adderall pill two days earlier to prevent him from falling asleep so that he could finish writing a report which counted towards his university diploma," CAS said.

FINA filed the appeal with CAS after the disciplinary commission of the Tunisian Swimming Federation concluded that Mellouli had not taken the substance with the intention of enhancing his performance and sanctioned him with only a reprimand and a warning.

CAS noted that Mellouli did not ask for an analysis of the "B" sample.

"If the swimmer was indeed guilty of negligence, such negligence was not sufficiently serious to suspend him for two years, which would have meant an automatic ban from the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing," the CAS panel ruled.

Mellouli also won a gold medal in the 400 individual medley at the 2004 world short course championships in Indianapolis. That medal is not affected by the CAS ruling.

Przemyslaw Stanczyk of Poland, who took silver behind Mellouli in the 800m, now stands to inherit the gold medal, while Craig Stevens of Australia will move up to silver and fourth-place Federico Colbertaldo of Italy to bronze.

In the 400m, Park Tae-hwan of South Korea won the gold. Grant Hackett of Australia is expected to move up to silver and Yuri Prilukov of Russia to bronze. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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