Rising star Shayna Jack tested positive to a banned substance, forcing her to pull out of the national squad before the world championships in South Korea, Swimming Australia (SA) has confirmed.
That news prompted stinging criticism from other top swimmers, with US breaststroke champion Lilly King branding the Australian a “drug cheat” and top South African Chad le Clos also taking a shot.
“She is a drug cheater,” said King. “She has tested positive on a drug test. I don’t know the details on the case so we will see.”
After initially claiming the 20-year-old left the team before the world titles for “personal reasons”, SA on Saturday night said she had failed a routine, out-of-competition drug test in late June.
“Swimming Australia tonight confirmed that swimmer Shayna Jack has been notified by ASADA of an adverse test result following a routine out-of-competition drug test conducted by ASADA testers on June 26, 2019,” an SA statement said.
“Once Swimming Australia was made aware of the adverse test result, it immediately took action — in accordance with the national policy — to provisionally suspend Shayna from the Australian swim team while a process was under way and accompanied her back to Australia from a training camp being held in Japan.
“The Swimming Australia policy also means that any Australian athlete under provisional suspension, while ASADA investigations are under way, cannot take part in any competition, meaning Shayna was unable to travel to Gwangju to compete at the 2019 World Championships.”
Jack defended her actions on Instagram, saying she did not knowingly break the doping rules.
“It is with great sadness and heartache that I had to leave due to allegations of having a prohibited substance in my system,” she wrote.
“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.
Jack asked for privacy, saying the situation was “very hard for me to cope with”.
View this post on Instagram
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
A post shared by Shayna Jack (@shayna_jack) on
Four-time world champion Chad le Clos also weighed in on the stunning revelation, saying swimmers should be banned for life on their first strike for doping
“I’m not sure what the [Jack] case is, but my stance is always the same: if you test positive you shouldn’t be allowed to swim,” the South African said.
“Anybody that takes PEDs [performance enhancing drugs] shouldn’t be allowed to swim, simple.”
Jack’s manager, Philip Stoneman, told the ABC the revelation was “shattering” for his client.
“She’s not coping very well at all. She’s feeling incredibly vulnerable. She’s scared,” Stoneman was quoted as saying.
“She’s not a cheat and all of this is happening at a time when the meet is still going,” he added.
“She wants to be focused on the Australian athletes, not on what’s happened to her. So she’s feeling very bad for them. It couldn’t be any worse for her … as a 20-year-old, you can imagine.”
Stoneman said Jack was aware of the banned substance that led to the positive test.
“She knows what it is. We haven’t actually discussed that,” he said.
“She’s been told what it is — she doesn’t understand what it is but she’s been told.”
Jack’s Australian teammate, Cate Campbell, told the ABC the national squad in Gwangju had been unaware of the positive test.
“I had absolutely no knowledge of this before tonight,” Campbell said Saturday night.
“I think that we have to respect the process. We stand for clean sport and I think the fact that Shayna isn’t here at the moment strengthens that stance,” she said.
Former ASADA chief executive Richard Ings was among those critical of how Jack’s positive test was handled by both the swimmer and SA, when “personal reasons” was offered as the explanation for her withdrawal.
A reminder of Shayna Jack’s withdrawal announcement on 14 July.
We now know this was an untruth.
The real reason, known at the time of this announcement, was she had been provisionally suspended for a positive A sample drug test.
Athletes need to be frank from day one. pic.twitter.com/E1bPtfJJzZ
— Richard Ings (@ringsau) July 27, 2019
Jack’s positive test comes at a time when Australia has been front and centre at the world championships amid the ongoing campaign to clean up swimming and improve anti-doping procedures.
Australian swimmer Mack Horton sparked controversy when he refused to acknowledge Sun Yang after the Chinese star relegated him to 400 metres freestyle silver in Gwangju on Sunday.
Sun, who served a doping ban in 2014, faces a lifetime suspension if found guilty of charges that he smashed a vial of his blood with a hammer in a clash with testers at his home last year.
The allegations of doping rule violations could result in a ban from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and he has requested a public trial at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in September to defend himself.
Horton refused to share the medal podium with Sun, choosing to stand behind it, while also declining to be photographed with the gold medallist.
Jack was a member of Australia’s 4x100m freestyle relay team that set a world record at last year’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
She also won two silver and two bronze medals in relays at the 2017 world championships in Budapest.