Oussama Mellouli Suspended for 18 Months; Still Eligible To Compete in Beijing

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, September 11. ACCORDING to a release from FINA, Tunisia's Oussama Mellouli has been suspended from the sport of swimming for a period of 18 months retroactive to Nov. 30, 2006 due to a doping violation. The timing of the ban, however, still leaves the door open for Mellouli to compete at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The statement made by FINA explained that "as a consequence of this decision, all the results obtained by the swimmer since that date are cancelled. This includes the medals, times and prizes achieved at the 12th FINA World Championships in Melbourne, held from March 17-April 1, 2007."

As previously reported here, the return of the world medals gives Australia's Grant Hackett and Russia's Yury Prilukov the silver and bronze in the 400 free, while Poland's Przemyslaw Stanczyk takes gold in the 800 free. Australia's Craig Stevens (silver) and Italy's Federico Colbertaldo (bronze) also move into better medal slots in the 800 free. This means that Mellouli can no longer claim to be the first Arab world champion swimmer.

The positive amphetamine test came during the U.S. Open held in West Lafayette, Ind., in November.

Mellouli told L'Equipe that he took Adderall, a pharmaceutical stimulant amphetamine used to treat attention-deficit-disorder and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, to help him with his studies. The drug helps users to concentrate over a longer period of time, and collegiate students have popularized the drug as a study aid.

According to a report by Nicole Jeffery of The Australian, the Tunisian swimming federation gave Mellouli a warning based on his explanation of why he used the drug in the first place.

However, FINA appealed the warning to the Court of Arbitration for Sports, which decided to implement the 18-month ban.