A European Union court on Thursday threw out a complaint by two swimmers that the International Olympic Committee's anti-doping rules infringed their EU right to work.
Spain's David Meca-Medina and Slovenia's Igor Majcen, two professional long-distance swimmers, once banned from international competition for two years on doping charges, argued that the IOC's rules were discriminatory and excessive.
But the Court of First Instance said in a statement: "They (anti-doping measures) are intended to preserve the spirit of fair play. (The) prohibition of doping ... forms part of the cardinal rule (s) of sport."
Though a professional athlete loses income through a competition ban, that is not the main aim of anti-doping rules, the Luxembourg-based Court of First Instance added.
Meca-Medina and Majcen tested positive for the banned steroid nandrolone at a marathon swimming World Cup event in Brazil in 1999 when they took the two top spots.
They initially filed a complaint to the European Commission which was rejected in 2002. The duo then took their case to the Court of First Instance, the EU's lower court. They have two months to appeal the decision.
The court ruled that the pair should pay costs.