By Phillip Whitten
LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Feb. 5. THE Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) yesterday rejected the appeal by Claudia Poll to overturn her four-year suspension by FINA, swimming's international governing body, after she tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
Poll has said all along that she is innocent and cited numerous procedural irregularities by FINA and IDTN, the testing agency, in the handling of her urine sample.
The CAS, however, disagreed: "Claudia Poll did not bring any convincing argument to establish that the laboratory analyses were not correctly conducted," the Court pronounced in a written statement.
Poll, 29, is the greatest athlete in Costa Rican history and the first person from her country to win Olympic gold. She won the 200m freestyle at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and added two bronze medals in 2000. She also held the short course world records in the 200 and 400m freestyles until both marks were broken by the USA's Lindsay Benko in the past several months.
Poll tested positive for the steroid norandrosterone in an out-of-competition test in February 2002 and suspended by FINA for four years beginning March 26, 2002.
Poll has steadfastly maintained her innocence, citing numerous irregularities in the handling of her sample, irregularities that in a US court would cause the case against her to be dismissed.
SwimInfo will follow-up this report with an exclusive interview with Claudia Poll.