September 28 - Ian Thorpe (pictured) has dropped a defamation case against the publisher of a French newspaper and a journalist over doping claims, it was announced today.

Thorpe, 26, was suing the daily sports newspaper L'Equipe, its publisher, and journalist Damien Ressiot, over an article published in March 2007.

The paper claimed Thorpe gave a urine sample in May 2006 which showed abnormal levels of testosterone and a luteinising hormone.

Thorpe's solicitor Tony O'Reilly said despite being served with the proceedings several times, counsel for neither L'Equipe nor Ressiot appeared in court in New South Wales.

O'Reilly said: "In these circumstances Ian has decided not to pursue the proceedings as he sees little point in obtaining a verdict in the absence of Mr Ressiot and the publisher of L'Equipe."

In August 2007, the Australia Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA), which went on to investigate the claims, cleared Thorpe, stating there was no evidence to support the allegation he used performance enhancing drugs.

FINA, swimming's world governing body, made similar findings.

Having won five Olympic gold medals at the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Games, Thorpe is Australia 's most successful Olympian.

O'Reilly said Thorpe brought about the proceedings to vindicate his reputation as a clean sportsman and to show the damage that can be done to the anti-doping fight if an athlete's privacy is not respected during the routine drug testing process.

O'Reilly said: "Ian remains grateful for all the support that he received from Australians and people all over the world, as well as from the swimming fraternity and athletes from a number of other sports, who have let him know that they never doubted his integrity as an athlete."