French fencer Ysaora Thibus celebrates a win in Milan. GETTY IMAGES

With a “liberated heart” the French Olympic fencer announced that she will compete again after having been provisionally suspended, then cleared for doping and is now eyeing Paris 2024 “relieved and happy.”

Ysaora Thibus, one of France’s stars in foil, says she will be able to participate at the Summer Games after escaping a disciplinary sanction from the International Fencing Federation over an abnormal doping test. The Guadeloupe-born athlete had been provisionally suspended in February but argued that she had tested positive for the anabolic substance ostarine in January only after being contaminated accidentally by her partner during sexual intercourse.

Although the international federation did not immediately confirm the decision, Thibus said she was ready to return to action after its disciplinary tribunal delivered the ruling. “It’s with a liberated heart that I’ll be able to return on the path toward the Olympic Games at home,” she exhaled.

The fencer, who has high hopes of winning a medal, used toxicological tests to prove that her partner, Race Imboden, former top-level American fencer, contaminated her the substance that was later found in urine tests. Ostarine, the anabolic agent discovered on 14 January during the World Cup stage in Paris, entered Thibus' body as a result of "contamination by body fluid", according to the team version of the Olympic runner-up (2021) and individual world champion (2022).

“These last few months have been terribly challenging and today is the culmination of a long battle,” Thibus said. "It's been very emotional and a great deal of joy. Even physically, there's a huge sense of relief. I've felt such a burden. I didn't do anything negligent. I've always wanted to win in a certain way, in line with my values. It's important that my integrity is recognised.”

Thibus was suspended on 8 February after testing positive for the substance, used to treat muscle wasting and osteoporosis, among other conditions. The shooter aways pleaded her innocence: in a press release on 20 February, she "categorically denied having been administered the slightest doping substance."

The hopeful Olympian isn’t totally off the hook, however, as she is still exposed to an appeal against this decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Her Lawyer, Joëlle Monlouis, explained that there would be proceedings on the merits, with very long deadlines, and the only possibility of preventing her from taking part in the Olympics would be a second procedure aimed at obtaining interim measures, such as giving suspensive effect to the ruling.

Thibus has been training and keeping physically fit in case her suspension was reversed. "Since I was seven, I've grown up fencing almost every day. Being deprived of it was psychologically complicated," she admitted to AFP. “But the important thing was to be ready. If I was lucky enough and had the opportunity to make this decision, it was out of the question to arrive completely tired.”

 After a five-month layoff, Thibus will be able to compete again at the European Championships in Basel (Switzerland) between 17 and 23 June, as a warm-up for the Olympics.