Emory International Law Review


At the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, Brazilian swimmer César Cielo Filho ('Cielo') lunged into the wall first in fifty-meter freestyle, finishing in 21.30 seconds, an Olympic-record time. In victory, Cielo thrust his fists into the air and repeatedly slammed them into the water, splashing with wild gesticulations. A half-minute later, he became more subdued and slid back into the water, hugging the lane line as tears welled in his eyes. After years of training and unwavering commitment to the sport of swimming, he had finally become the fastest swimmer in the world and an Olympic gold medalist. Three years later, while competing in Brazil two months before the 2011 Fédération Internationale de Natation ('FINA') World Championships, Cielo found both his reputation and swimming future in jeopardy. At a Brazilian national swimming competition, Cielo and three of his teammates tested positive for the banned substance furosemide, a diuretic that can mask the presence of performance-enhancing drugs in a biological system. Under the World Anti-Doping Code ('WADC'), to which all swimmers who compete at the international level must adhere, Cielo faced up to a two-year period of ineligibility from the sport. Such a sanction would have prohibited him from competing in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London and potentially cost him millions of dollars in endorsement deals.