Australian swimmer Shayna Jack has denied she’s a drug cheat after testing positive for a banned substance and pulling out of the World Championships.
The athlete originally claimed she was withdrawing from the competition for “personal reasons” and following the shocking news that a banned substance was found in her system, the 20-year-old has issued an emotional statement declaring her innocence. It comes after the Australian team’s very firm stance against athletes taking drugs.
Sharing a lengthy statement via her Instagram page, Jack admitted that when she was called to the head coach’s room on July 12, she was unaware of what she was walking into and said she was her usual “happy and bubbly” self.
“That all changed when I walked through the door to be told ASADA [Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority] had called. My brain instantly went into frantic thoughts, something was wrong, I had never missed a test, it wasn’t my time slot, so why would they want me?” she recalled.
The swimmer said she felt her heart break when she was told a sample tested positive to a prohibited substance called Ligandrol and explained she had never heard of the drug before.
“There was nothing I could do at that moment, nothing the people around me could do to help me,” Jack said. “I was in complete shock, asking myself how and why is this happening to me.”
While she left her teammates behind and returned home, she didn’t tell them what really happened because she didn’t want to take their moment away from them.
“I didn’t intentionally take this substance; I didn’t even know it was in my system. It just didn’t make any sense, and still doesn’t to this day,” she wrote.
While a B sample was requested, Jack was confident that she’d have nothing to worry about and was shocked when that test also returned a positive result. She recalled falling to the ground and that she hasn’t slept much since.
“I think of what I have worked so hard for all being taken away from me, and I had done nothing wrong. Ever since I was 10 years old, I have wanted to be on the Australian swim team, to represent my country,” she explained.
Still, she said she will fight to prove her innocence and to find out how the substance came into contact with her. Jack said it would be an ongoing challenge to prove her innocence and to return to training to achieve the dream she’s had since she was a child.
“Deep down, I feel I shouldn’t have to defend my reputation as I know that I didn’t do this. I have never missed a random drug test, and I always have my whereabouts up to date,” she said. “In Australia, in a sport like swimming, I feel there is no possible way for an athlete to intentionally take a banned substance and not get caught.”
Jack said she gets tested every four to six weeks and it doesn’t make sense that she would do this to herself in the lead up to a major competition.
“Now I feel like that can all be taken away because of some sort of contamination; no athlete is safe from the risks of contamination,” she said.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, in this case a picture can not describe the amount of pain and vulnerability I am feeling right now. It is with great sadness and heartache that I had to leave due to allegations of having a prohibited substance in my system. I did NOT take this substance knowingly. Swimming has been my passion since I was 10 years old and I would never intentionally take a banned substance that would disrespect my sport and jeopardise my career. Now there is an ongoing investigation and my team and I are doing everything we can to find out when and how this substance has come into contact with my body. I would appreciate if you respect my privacy as this is very hard for me to cope with
Swimming Australia CEO Leigh Russell previously described the incident as “embarrassing”.
“I do want to say that while an Australian athlete returning an adverse result is both bitterly disappointing and embarrassing to our team, our sport and our country, it does not in any way change the zero tolerance view that Swimming Australia has and our continuing fight for a clean sport,” she told reporters.
It follows fellow Aussie Mack Horton’s protest earlier this month, where he refused to share a podium with accused Chinese drug cheat Sun Yang. He has since spoken out against Jack.
“I was disappointed to learn late yesterday that a fellow Dolphins team member had recently returned a positive A sample,” he told 7 news. “I applaud the decision to immediately withdraw the athlete in question from further competition until this matter is resolved. My position remains firm – clean sport must be a priority for all athletes, all sports and all nations.”