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Vertical Blue 2023 - doping bust-up of two freedivers ahead of next edition of the event

Published: July 10, 2023 - 13:45
Updated: July 23, 2023 - 02:44
Vertical Blue 2023 – doping bust-up of two freedivers ahead of next edition of the event

Two freedivers from Croatia, including current FIM World Record holder Petar Klovar, were subjected to a baggage control that revealed prohibited doping substances. Both Croatian freedivers have been indefinitely banned from the Vertical Blue competitions.

Two Croatian Freedivers banned from VB

As a result of an anti-doping check of their luggage, two Croatian freedivers have been excluded indefinitely from competing in the cyclical Vertical Blue competition.

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Vitomir Maričić and Petar Klovar flew to the Bahamas on July 4, where the VB series competition is scheduled to take place. As part of an anti-doping control, which they agreed to when registering as participants in the competition, their luggage was searched upon arrival.

In the case of both athletes, the check revealed prohibited Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs). In an official statement describing the incident, VB organizers said that the 4 substances found in total are on the prohibited substances lists of the Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and Vertical Blue.

Both Croatian freedivers have been banned from the highly prestigious Vertical Blue competitions, and documentation of the entire incident has been forwarded by the organizers to a special doping commission at AIDA International.

In addition to the PEDs found in their luggage, the two freedivers can be further incriminated by the audio recording of the conversation from the luggage search. In the conversation, which was conducted in Croatian, the athletes were said to have discussed the banned drugs in their luggage and the substances they had recently taken, which may still be detectable in their bodies.

World Record holder

Petar Klovar is the current AIDA World Record holder in the Free Immersion (FIM) competition. The freediver reached a depth of 128 metres during the AIDA IDA ASIA Depth Challenge on 17 May 2023 and improved by one metre the result of Polish freediver Mateusz Malina, who set his record on 11 August 2022 during the… Vertical Blue 2022.

For everyone who is currently following the public campaign against us and the events on VB, we would like to state: Everything that is happening now is incredible and false and doesn’t correspond to the truth. We are currently advised not to make any detailed statements. Our lawyers are taking action, because things are out of hand and serious. We are athletes that are clean, have always been and this will all be soon clarified. We believe anyone knowing us or training with us already knows this from personal experience. Thank you for your support – said Klovar on his social media account.

Vertival Blue Official Statemant

On July 4, 2023, as part of the Vertical Blue doping policy and procedures, to which all VB athletes have signed their agreement during pre-registration, three Croatian athletes, including VB registrants Vitomir Maricic and Petar Klovar, underwent a doping control luggage search upon their arrival on Long Island, Bahamas.

During the search, four (4) known Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDS) were discovered in the luggage of both athletes. These included substances that are on the WADA banned list for all sport, as well as other prescription drugs that are known to be PEDS for freediving, and are included on the banned list for VB according to its doping policy.

Furthermore, audio documentation of the doping control revealed that the athletes in question discussed (in Croatian language) the drugs that were in their luggage, as well drugs they had taken recently that they were concerned may still be detectable in their system.

The athletes have now been banned from Vertical Blue 2023 and future VB events, and a report is being prepared for the AIDA Disciplinary Committee.

Vertical Blue
Vertical Blue 2023 by Garmin

Vertical Blue 2023 by Garmin

The Vertical Blue competition, which takes place in the Bahamas, is regarded among freedivers as one of the most prestigious. The New York Times has even called it the ‘Wimbledon of freediving’, comparing it to the legendary tennis tournament. This year’s 15th edition will take place from 20 to 30 July and will feature 40 athletes from 20 different countries. The Garmin brand has become the main partner of VB 2023.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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