Former Barcelona and Chelsea star Deco was today cleared of a doping offence by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after they ruled that his test had been mishandled by the laboratory in Rio de Janeiro, which has since been suspended.
It is another major embarrassment for Brazilian officials following the decision by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to revoke its accreditation status, forcing FIFA to have to send all the samples it takes during this year's World Cup across the Atlantic to be tested in Lausanne.
The Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), also known as LADETEC, laboratory was suspended last August after it failed to meet the International Standard for Laboratories (ISL).
Now its reputation has been further discredited after the CAS announced the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) and world governing body FIFA had annulled Deco's one-year ban imposed last September.
"It could not be established that [Deco] has committed an anti-doping rule violation," the CAS's published ruling said.
The case against Deco, who retired last year due to injury, collapsed when his samples were re-tested in Lausanne.
The 36-year-old playmaker, capped 75 times by Portugal, allegedly tested positive for two banned substances in early 2013 after playing in a Rio State Championship match for Fluminense.
The laboratory claimed his samples contained hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic which can mask the presence of other drugs, and tamoxifen, which can help allgedly cope with the side effects of using anabolic steroids.
Lausanne laboratory director Martial Saugy recommended "first that WADA investigates directly with the Rio lab on the reliability of the results," the court ruling said.
Saugy noted that Deco's samples arrived in Switzerland in an "unusual container" and that the "chain of custody cannot be guaranteed".
A new anti-doping laboratory in Rio de Janeiro is nearing completion but WADA President Sir Craig Reedie has warned that it still faces a struggle to be accredited in time for the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics.
In 2012, the laboratory was suspended from conducting isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) testing on samples - the element of its operation which had caused it falsely to report that Brazilian beach volleyball player Pedro Solberg Salgado had tested positive for testosterone.
To read the full CAS judgement click here.
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