Oussama "Ous" Mellouli (Arabic: أسامة الملولي; born 16 February 1984) is a Tunisian swimmer who competes in the freestyle and medley events. He is a three-time Olympic medalist, is an African record holder, and trains with the USC Trojans team based at the University of Southern California, where he studied as a computer science undergraduate and swam collegiately.
Since returning from an Adderall related drugs ban, Oussama Mellouli has been the 1500 m freestyle World champion at the 2009 World Aquatics Championships with a winning time of 14:37.28, then the second best performance of all time. Mellouli was the gold medalist in the 1500 freestyle at the 2008 Olympics, the bronze medalist in the 1500 freestyle at the 2012 Olympics, and the gold medalist in the 10 km marathon swim at the 2012 Olympics. He is the first Olympian to win medals in both the open water and the pool in a single Olympics
Born in Tunis, Mellouli left Tunisia at the age of 15 to study and train in France. He enrolled in USC Viterbi School of Engineering in 2003 after graduating from the Lycee Technologique du Rempart in Marseille, France. He swam for the USC Trojans and graduated in 2007 with a computer science bachelor's degree. He is a scholarship holder with the Olympic Solidarity program.
Mellouli won 1 silver medal in the 400m IM at the 2001 Mediterranean Games, in Tunis, Tunisia.
Mellouli first established himself on the world scene at the 2003 World Championships in Barcelona, Spain where he won a bronze in the 400m Individual Medley finishing behind László Cseh and a world record performance from Michael Phelps.
At the 2004 Olympics he finished 5th in the 400 IM, setting the African Record in the process. He further distinguished himself at the 2004 FINA Short Course World Championships in Indianapolis, USA where he won the first international-level gold medal in swimming for Tunisia, in the 400m IM, finishing over a second ahead of second and third-place finishers Robin Francis and Eric Shanteau. Later on at the meet he would go on to win bronze in the 200m IM.
He was able to better his Athens mark with his bronze-medal swim in the 400 IM event at the 2005 World Aquatics Championships in Montreal, Canada. He also won the bronze-medal in the 400 freestyle at that same event. He also won three gold medals (800 m freestyle, 400m medley, 200m medley) at the XVth Mediterranean Games in Almería, Spain.
On December 1, 2006, Oussama Mellouli beat Michael Phelps in the 400m IM at the U.S. Open in West Lafayette: Mellouli clocked 4:15.61, ahead of Phelps with 4:18.32. This swim however was subsequently placed within Mellouli's 18-month doping ban, and the results nullified, as the drug test where the banned substance was found occurred at this meet (see section below for further information).
On February 19, 2007, he broke his own African Record in the 200m individual medley for the fourth time since 2003 at the USA Swimming Grand Prix meet, held at the Mizzou Aquatic Center at the University of Missouri. He also set a new African record in the 400 meter individual medley.
On March 25, 2007, he won the silver in the 400 m freestyle (3:45.12) at the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne, Australia. Three days later, on March 28, he swam to the first Tunisian World Championship in swimming in winning the 800m freestyle in a then African Record of 7:46.95 — one of the top 10 fastest times ever. However, due to his positive drug-testing result from a in-competition test from December 2006 and the 18-month competition ban imposed on him on 11 September 2007 by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), retroactive from 30 November 2006 forward, his 2007 World Championships results have been nullified. He was also a finalist in the 400 m individual medley, where he originally finished fourth in 4:11.68.
Following the September 11, 2007 ruling by CAS, Mellouli was not allowed to compete again up mid-2008. All of Mellouli's results from 2007 have been nullified, per his September 2007 doping suspension, related to his positive test from December 2006 (see section below).
Mellouli came into the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China entered in two events, the 400m and 1500m freestyle events. In his first event, the 400m free despite setting a new African record in the final, he could only manage fifth place in a time of 3:43.45. Mellouli would however go on to win the 1500m freestyle and set a new African record. In doing so, he became the first African male swimmer to ever win an Olympic gold medal in an individual swimming event (the South African men's 4 × 100 m Free Relay won the event at the 2004 Olympics).
Mellouli won 5 gold medals (200m and 400m individual medley, and 200m, 400m and 1500m freestyles) at the XVI Mediterranean Games in Pescara, Italy.
In the 2009 World Aquatics Championships, held in Rome during the summer, Mellouli won a gold medal in the 1500 meter freestyle and 2 silver medals in the 400 meter freestyle and 800 meter freestyle.
Mellouli won 4 medals ( 1 gold in the 1500 freestyle; 1 silver in the 400 medley and 2 bronzes in the 200 m freestyle and the 400 m freestyle) at the 2010 FINA Short Course World Championships (25m) in Dubai, UAE.
Melloouli won 16 medals ( 15 gold and 1 silver ) at the 2011 Pan Arab Games in Doha, Qatar.
Mellouli won 2 medals (1 gold in the 10km marathon and 1 bronze in the 1500m freestyle) at the 2012 Summer Olympics held in London, UK. He became the first person to win medals in both pool and open-water swimming in the same Olympics.
Mellouli won 1 gold medal in the 5km marathon at the 2013 World Championships, in Barcelona, Spain.
Mellouli participated in two competitions in Rio 2016 Summer Olympics but did not win any medals. In the 1500m freestyle he came first in his heat with 15:07.78 (considerably slower than his London 2012 Summer Olympics time of 14:40.31) but ranked 21st in the competition thus did not qualify for the final. He also competed in the 10km marathon finishing in the 12th place with 1:53:06 (+0:00:07 of the gold winner).
Positive drug test
A few weeks after the conclusion of the 2007 World Championships, reports began to surface that Mellouli had tested positive for a banned substance at the 2006 U.S. Open, November 30 – December 2, 2006. These reports surfaced because FINA, the international governing body of the sport, had discovered that Tunisian authorities had known about the positive test but had only given him a warning. FINA/WADA rules state that when an athlete tests positive for a banned substance, he or she must be given a 2-year ban from the sport. Accordingly, FINA took the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), demanding stiffer sanction.
Mellouli has since admitted that he took the ADD medication Adderall, a stimulant and a form of amphetamine. (Already in June 2006, an American sports commentator wrote: Various studies show rampant use of Adderall, Ritalin and other drugs normally used for attention deficit disorder instead applied toward all-night cramming sessions. ) Mellouli did not have a prescription for the drug, having claimed to have received it from another USC student shortly before the US Open. He argued that he took the pill in order to help himself with writing a term paper (to sustain or enhance his academic performance) in the days leading up to the weekend US Open meet, and that the drug was not intended as a performance-enhancing substance for competitive swimming. However, amphetamines are on the official banned substances list; and can/do help swimming performance.
CAS ruled on Mellouli's case on September 11, 2007, ruling against him and issuing him an 18-month competition suspension, retroactively beginning on November 30, 2006. As a result of this sanction, all his results from the 2006 U.S. Open through the competitions his swam in 2007, including the 2007 World Championships, were nullified. Interestingly, and perhaps conscientiously, his ban from competition covered most, but not all, of the qualification window for the 2008 Olympics. As the retroactive nullification of results wiped out all of his qualifying times for the 2008 Games, he ended up with just a week or two after the ban in order to qualify (which he did).
- 2013 World Championships – 1 gold medal (5 km marathon) and 1 bronze medal (10 km marathon)
- 2012 Summer Olympics – gold medal (10 km marathon) and bronze medal (1500 m freestyle).
- 2009 World Championships – 1 gold medal (1500 m freestyle) and 2 silver medals (400 m freestyle, 800 m freestyle)
- 2008 Summer Olympics – gold medal (1500 m freestyle)
- 2007 World Championships — results nullified.
- 2005 World Championships – bronze medal (400m individual medley and 400m freestyle)
- 2004 Olympic Games – fifth place (400 m individual medley)
- 2004 FINA Short Course World Championships – bronze medal (200 m individual medley)
- 2004 FINA Short Course World Championships – gold medal (400 m individual medley)
- 2003 World Championships – bronze medal (400 m individual medley)