Thorpe cleared of doping charge

SYDNEY, Australia - Australia's sports doping agency has cleared champion swimmer Ian Thorpe of doping charges that arose last year when urine tests showed elevated levels of two banned substances.

"The evidence available does not indicate the use of performance enhancing substances by Mr. Thorpe," the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority said Friday. "He has no case to answer."

Thorpe welcomed the ASADA decision.

"My reputation as a fair competitor in swimming is the thing I value most," he said in a statement. "I have always been, and remain, a strong supporter of anti-doping testing.

Thorpe became embroiled in the doping investigation when a urine sample taken in May 2006 showed elevated levels of testosterone and epitestosterone.

The French newspaper L'Equipe reported the test results in March this year.

ASADA had, by that time, decided not to pursue a doping investigation against Thorpe because it believed the substances were naturally occurring. It was forced to revisit that decision when swimming's international body, FINA, appealed the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The 24-year-old Thorpe set out immediately to clear his name and earlier this month provided medical evidence to ASADA which, he said, proved the high levels of testosterone and epitestosterone shown in last year's test were naturally occurring.

"ASADA's comprehensive review included an examination of the athlete's recent test history and athlete-supplied medical documentation in line with the World Anti-Doping Agency code," ASADA said.

"ASADA sought expert medical and scientific opinion from the Australian Sports Drug Medical Advisory Committee (ASDMAC); the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratories in Sydney, Australia, and Montreal, Canada; and the ANZAC Research Institute in Sydney.

"Experts from these internationally respected organizations were unanimous in their opinion that the evidence available does not indicate the use of performance enhancing substances by the athlete.

"While the matter has taken some time to resolve, ASADA was absolutely determined to ensure that the results of our examination would leave no room for doubt."

Thorpe, who won five Olympic titles in an illustrious career, retired from competitive swimming last November.