One of the international bodies governing records and competition in Freediving – CMAS – has found two Croatian athletes at the center of an alleged doping scandal from last year’s Vertical Blue freediving competition guilty on ethics grounds.
Vitomir Maricic and Petar Klovar were found to have banned substances according to competition rules in their luggage upon arriving in the Bahamas for the Vertical Blue competition. They faced an immediate ban by competition organizers.
This week, CMAS issued a statement saying its disciplinary committee “has found the two athletes guilty of breaches of the CMAS Code of Ethics, having been found in possession of substances capable of enhancing athletes performances, thus altering the outcome of a competition, and at the same time causing harm to the health of freedivers.”
CMAS has fined Maricic and Klovar €5,000/~US$5,432 and suspended them for six months, “which shall include time already served.”
In July, CMAS provisionally banned them pending the conclusion of an investigation and meeting of the CMAS Board of Directors the following September.
In its statement this week, CMAS said the two athletes “may resume participation in sports on the 27th May 2024,” adding:
“CMAS is tirelessly committed to the fight against any form of cheating in underwater sports and will spare no effort to maintain the state of health of athletes at any level and fairness in competitions. In this respect, although not yet included in the WADA list, the CMAS board has prohibited the use of sildenafil and benzodiazepines in CMAS governed underwater sport disciplines, particularly free diving and is in the process of completing the testing procedure rules to be effective and applicable as of the upcoming 2024 international sport season.”
CMAS’s decision was criticized on social media for being too lax, both in terms of the fine as well as the length of the suspension, with others concerned that some of the drugs, like sildenafil (Viagra), are not officially classed as Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) by WADA – the World Anti Doping Association
Both Maricic and Klovar have continued to deny all wrongdoing on social media, and Klovar told DeeperBlue.com in July:
“Nothing to comment for now. Our lawyers will speak for us.”
While Maricic told DeeperBlue.com:
“We can confirm that all the allegations made by Mr. William Trubridge against us are untrue and unfounded. We have also been subject to undue process and serious procedural irregularities. Our lawyers are working towards an appropriate response.”
Click below to view CMAS’s statement and the comments in response.