Thorpe shocked by doping investigation report

MELBOURNE Sat Mar 31, 2007 9:43am EDT

Australia's world and Olympic swimming champion swimmer Ian Thorpe is shown reacting to a question during a news conference in Sydney, Australia, in this November 21, 2006 file photo. Thorpe was shocked to learn he was the subject of a doping investigation following a report in French newspaper L'Equipe, Australian swimming officials said on Saturday. REUTERS/David Gray

Australia's world and Olympic swimming champion swimmer Ian Thorpe is shown reacting to a question during a news conference in Sydney, Australia, in this November 21, 2006 file photo. Thorpe was shocked to learn he was the subject of a doping investigation following a report in French newspaper L'Equipe, Australian swimming officials said on Saturday.

Credit: Reuters/David Gray

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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Ian Thorpe was shocked to learn he was the subject of a doping investigation following a report in French newspaper L'Equipe, Australian swimming officials said on Saturday.

Swimming Australia chief executive Glenn Tasker said Thorpe had not been notified about any irregularity but was aware of the L'Equipe story saying he was being investigated after a test last May returned irregular levels of testosterone and another hormone.

"I haven't spoken to Ian but the head coach Allan Thompson has and Ian is obviously shocked," Tasker told a news conference.

Swimming's world governing body FINA confirmed on Saturday that it had lodged an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over a doping test conducted by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA).

FINA, which did not identify the swimmer involved, released a statement saying there had been an "adverse analytical result" that it had referred to CAS "with the aim of clarifying the issues surrounding the case."

L'Equipe did not say Thorpe, who retired from swimming last year, had returned a positive test or committed a doping offence.

SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE

The paper said Australian doping officials had dropped the case because there was not enough scientific evidence to suggest any wrongdoing from Thorpe but FINA had asked CAS to investigate.

"The FINA Doping Control Review Board (DCRB), consisting of experts on doping issues and directors of several WADA approved laboratories, considered the findings of this sample as an adverse analytical result," the statement said.

"Based on their professional expertise and recommendation, and according to FINA Rules, an appeal has been lodged to CAS with the aim of clarifying the issues surrounding this case.

"On the tests conducted by a National Anti-Doping Agency or National Federation, the procedure is that FINA receives the result of the laboratory analysis, which states only the number of the respective sample and not the name of the athlete.

"As the matter now rests with CAS. FINA cannot make any further comment on this issue."

Thorpe was not available for comment but a spokesman for Swimming Australia said he was meeting with his lawyers.

Thorpe's coach Tracey Menzies told reporters in Melbourne that she had never been told about any irregular test results.

Jacco Verhaeren, the coach of Thorpe's great Dutch rival Pieter van den Hoogenband, said he was angry that a test result, that had not been positive, had been leaked to the media.

"This is damaging somebody's career without any reason and I think that's the worst about it," Verhaeren told reporters.

"I think there are people to investigate these kinds of things and I think we should first listen to these people before damaging somebody who is an exceptional sportsman and to me a very honest guy and to me he is not under suspicion."

Thorpe is regarded as one of the greatest swimmers of all time. He won five Olympic gold medals, 11 world titles and set 13 world records since bursting on to the world stage as a 15-year-old at the 1998 world championships.

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