Brazilian swimmer Cesar Cielo was given a big thumbs-down by a fellow athlete on Monday as he claimed a controversial World Championship victory just days after escaping a doping ban.
Kenya’s Jason Dunford made the pointed gesture and whistles were heard from the Sea Crown stadium crowd after Cielo’s 50m butterfly win, highlighting serious discontent among swimmers.
Cielo was only cleared to compete last week when he was let off with a warning for testing positive for a banned diuretic, leaving him free to defend his 50m and 100m freestyle titles.
The victory unleashed a torrent of emotions and Cielo sobbed uncontrollably on the podium, as he was comforted by fellow medallists Matthew Targett and Geoff Huegill of Australia.
“This gold medal has a different feel from the other ones,” said Cielo, who clocked 23.10 seconds to take gold, just 0.18 ahead of second-placed Targett.
“This one was the hardest of my life.”
But Cielo also had to fend off a series of pointed questions, with Targett leaping in to cut off one journalist who asked Cielo if heard booing from the crowd.
“Honestly, I think these questions are more annoying than the booing. I’m here to swim,” Cielo said. “I’m a swimmer, not an entertainer.”
Van der Burgh comes up short
Cielo denies wrongdoing and blames a contaminated caffeine supplement for the result at Brazil’s national championships in May. Three teammates also tested positive for furosemide, which can mask performance-enhancing drugs.
Elsewhere on a dramatic evening, Norway’s Alexander Dale Oen claimed an emotional victory for his home country after deadly attacks, and a 15-year-old prodigy secured China’s first swimming gold.
Dale Oen said he used his sadness at the atrocities as “fuel” to win the men’s 100m breaststroke ahead of Italian Fabio Scozzoli and South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh.
“I just tried to use what happened back home as fuel and tried to think we just need to push forward,” he said, referring to the bombing and shooting which left around 90 people dead.
“It’s been really tough but I’m happy I could put it in the back of my head for a minute or two and just focus on the race.”
Asian Games champion Ye Shiwen (15) brought the crowd to its feet in a pulsating 200m individual medley, pipping Australia’s Alicia Coutts to her second silver of the night.
A ‘deadly field’
Defending champion Ariana Kukors of the United States was third but there was no medal for Australia’s Olympic title-holder Stephanie Rice, who finished fourth.
Meanwhile American Dana Vollmer (23) won her first individual title at a world championships in the 100m butterfly ahead of Coutts and China’s Lu Ying.
Vollmer’s victory was attained by virtue of an unusual training regime in the ocean off Australia’s Tasmania, and follows a career beset by injury as well as a serious heart problem which required surgery in 2003.
“I’m so excited. I’ve never won a world championship. My fly’s been feeling absolutely amazing,” Vollmer said. “I feel all the different things I’ve been doing with training … are really paying off for me.”
America’s 14-time Olympic champion Michael Phelps qualified for Tuesday’s 200m freestyle final alongside team-mate Ryan Lochte, a day after the US 4x100m freestylers were shocked by Australia.
“It’s a deadly field. You know it’s going to be down to the last 50,” said Phelps. “I think whoever gets their feet over first in that 150 (turn) is going to have that shot.” — AFP