Niksa Dobud of Croatian Water Polo Suspended For Four Years By FINA Doping Panel

Niksa Dobud, a member of the Croation Water Polo National Team, has been suspended for four years for an attempt to evade a FINA drug test. Dobud’s official suspension will run from April 13, 2015 to April 12, 2019. This suspension comes on the heels of another four-year suspension by FINA regarding a positive cocaine test by Serbian Water Polo player Nikola Radjen. 

Dobud is a decorated member of the Croation Water Polo team, having won gold at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. He also competed for Croatia at the 2009, 2011, and 2013 World Championships, earning three bronze medals, and won gold as part of the European Championship team that competed in front of a home crowd in Croatia in 2010.

According to the investigation, the evasion of the drug test occurred on March 21, 2015, the day after a preliminary match in the Water Polo World League in Budva, Montenegro. Following that preliminary match on March 20, Dobud submitted to an in-competition test. At this point the case gets a bit muddled. Dobud initially stated that the in-competition test forced him to miss the team bus in Croatia, at which point he stayed in Budva for the night. At the FINA hearing, however, the athlete claimed he returned to his home after partying until around 5:00 in the morning with friends.

The crux of the case centers on what happened the morning of March 21, 2015 at Dobud’s home when a FINA agent reported to issue Dubod a drug test. The FINA report states that a doping control agent showed up at Dobud’s house around 6:45 AM that morning and was met by Dobud’s wife, who after answering the door went to wake up Dobud.

According to the FINA agent, when Dobud came to the door and was told he was being drug tested he shut the door and refused to let the doping agent come into his home. The agent says he proceeded to stand outside of Dobud’s door until 9 AM, trying to communicate that if Dobud did not take the test it would count as an automatic failed test.

Dobud’s claims that he never interacted with a FINA agent. Rather, in the hearing he states that his brother-in-law was staying at his house that night helping care for their young child while Dobud was away competing. Dobud claims he never answered the door, but it was his brother-in-law who the FINA doping agent mistakenly identified. Furthermore, Dobud claims he was in a separate, adjoining apartment, as to not wake his family when he came home that morning.

Dobud’s version of the story was dismissed by FINA, who noted that he changed the details of the encounter between his initial letters (written April 8 and April 28) and the hearing. Additionally, the panel did not believe that Dubod’s wife would be unaware of his whereabouts in the adjacent apartment. This is Dubod’s first doping violation.

Full notes of the proceedings can be seen here.

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Author: James Sica

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James Sica is the Men and Women's Assistant Coach at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been an assistant coach at CMU in Pittsburgh, PA (2015-2017), a volunteer assistant coach with the Harvard women’s program (2014-2015) and an assistant with the Ithaca College men's program (2012-2014).

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