Michael Fibbens, the British short-course record holder over 100 meters freestyle, has been temporarily suspended from swimming after testing positive for a banned stimulant.
The A sample of the test, taken from Fibbens, 29, at the British round of the world cup in Sheffield last month, showed the swimmer to have taken Benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, according to FINA, the international governing body.
Fibbens, coached by David Hobbs at Swiss Cottage in London and one of the most experienced members of the British team, now has the right to have the B sample tested. Standard procedure dictates his temporary suspension until a final decision in the case is made.
If the case against him is confirmed he could receive a suspension of up to two years and all his competition results of the past six months will be annulled. In jeopardy too would be the financial support that Fibbens receives from the funding of sport through the national lottery. The suspension comes at the end of the best winter season Fibbens has had in five years. He won the 100 metres freestyle at Sheffield and at the final round of the world cup in Paris nine days ago he finished third in the 50 metres and clocked a time faster than his British record from 1992 in the 100 metres though he was disqualified for a false start.
Fibbens said he was under legal instruction not to comment on the details of the case. “We still haven’t seen the medical report and I haven’t said they should test the B sample yet,” he said. “I’m hoping for the best possible result. My big hope at my age is that this will not take me out swimming for the rest of my life.”
He finished tenth in the sprint freestyle category of the world cup after competing in only three of the nine rounds, five of which count for points.
A source close to the Amateur Swimming Association confirmed that an unprecedented number of drug tests had been taken at the Sheffield round of the cup on instruction from the English Sports Council. Cornel Marculescu, director of FINA, confirmed that Fibbens had been temporarily suspended yesterday. He lamented that “once again swimming is getting noticed for drugs.”
The bill for a taskforce set up by FINA to investigate the problems of drug abuse in swimming after six Chinese were sent home from the world championships in Australia in January for drugs related offences, is currently running at about 600,000. The taskforce of ten medical experts is due to report this summer.