RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian federal police arrested the former head of the country's water sports association and two others on Thursday for alleged embezzlement of up to 40 million reais (10.21 million pounds) in public funds.
The arrests came after complaints from athletes, ex-athletes and business people tied to the sport that officials at the Brazilian Confederation of Aquatic Sports (CBDA) pocketed funds meant for training and equipment, police said at a press conference.
The case follows corruption scandals in other Brazilian sports such as soccer and volleyball.
Former CBDA president Coaracy Nunes was detained along with the group's one-time financial director and the technical coordinator of the water polo team, a police spokesman said.
"I cried with relief," former Olympic swimmer Joana Maranhao, a long-time critic of the CBDA leadership, said on Twitter. "You have no idea how I hoped for this."
A fourth person with a warrant out for his arrest was declared a fugitive.
Police also detained four people for questioning and carried out 16 search warrants as part of the operation, according to an official statement. An earlier police statement said that five had been arrested.
The CBDA, which represents sports such as diving, swimming and water polo, said Nunes, who was first elected to lead the organisation in 1988, left the organisation as president in March and elections for his successor were yet to be called.
The CBDA is a private entity which is partly funded by the public sector.
(Reporting by Pedro Fonseca; Additional reporting by Andrew Downie; Writing by Bruno Federowski; Editing by W Simon and Andrew Hay)