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July 31, 2019

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Report: Drug-tainted Jack faces 4-year ban

Australian swimmer Shayna Jack has been notified that she faces a four-year suspension after testing positive for a banned drug, unless she can prove her innocence, a report said yesterday.

Jack, part of Australia’s 4x100-meter freestyle team that set a world record last year, tested positive for the banned drug Ligandrol, which helps build muscle mass, out of competition late last month.

The Daily Telegraph said the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority had told Jack she will receive a four-year suspension, the standard penalty for athletes who test positive for anabolic agents. The 20-year-old will be able to contest the sanction as part of normal processes.

Jack returned home days before the world championships in South Korea, citing “personal reasons.” On Sunday she strenuously denied intentionally taking the banned substance, which she intimated could be found in contaminated supplements.

Swimming Australia head coach Jacco Verhaeren, who arrived back in Brisbane from the meet yesterday, said he believed Jack could “definitely” bounce back from the doping scandal.

“There are cases where the athlete’s name is cleared and it was all a mistake or contamination or whatever it was. And sure they come back from that,” he said.

The revelation has proved a huge embarrassment for Australian swimming, coming after Olympic champion Mack Horton’s high-profile protest against Chinese rival Sun Yang at the world championships in Gwangju.

Horton refused to share a podium with Sun, who was cleared of wrongdoing after being accused of smashing vials of blood following a test last year, a decision that is the subject of a World Anti-Doping Agency appeal — to be heard in September.

Australia’s newspapers have plastered the story across both their back and front pages, while the social media backlash has been swift, with the swimmer being inundated by trolls calling for her to be banned and denouncing her as a “hypocrite.”

Her manager Phil Stoneman said on Monday that the 20-year-old did not ingest the drug via supplement tablets and was now examining her diet.

“It could be meat, it could be mushrooms, it could be anything. It could be something in a bottle,” he told national broadcaster ABC.

“It’s a bit of jigsaw puzzle as to how this has come into her system.”

The Australian team was only told of her positive result on Saturday, with Horton later calling the revelations “disappointing.”

Chinese state media has hit out at the Australian swimmers, accusing the team of “utter hypocrisy.”

Xinhua news agency did not hold back in its criticism. A strongly worded English commentary also accused Swimming Australia of a “cover-up” over the Jack case.

“By lying to the public regarding the Jack case, Swimming Australia has lost every ounce of credibility in its defense of Mack Horton’s podium stunt aimed at Sun Yang,” the commentary said.

“Swimming Australia is not interested in due process, nor is it interested in protecting clean sport,” it added.

Horton received an ovation from fellow swimmers at the athletes’ dining hall for his protest, which was echoed by Britain’s Duncan Scott. Sun, who served a suspension in 2014, has always denied doping.

Xinhua accused Horton, 23, of “selective outrage” and being an “opportunist,” intent only on getting one over an opponent.

“He should stop pretending that protecting clean sport is his intention. Horton is fooling nobody,” Xinhua said.

Many similar opinions were voiced on Chinese social media.

“Those who call others liars are in truth the liars themselves,” was one typical post on Weibo.


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