Shayna Jack is back home in Queensland.
Shayna Jack is back home in Queensland.

Swimming Aus admits to huge blunder

SWIMMING Australia has admitted it made the mistake of throwing star Cate Campbell to the wolves on Saturday night, leaving her as the only spokesperson for Australian Swimming to respond to Shayna Jack's positive doping test bombshell.

With the sport still reeling from Aussie champion Mack Horton's podium protest of Chinese star Sun Yang last week, Jack's preliminary suspension for testing positive to a banned substance on June 26 has left Australia as a laughing stock on the world stage.

Swimming Australia's decision to withhold the information of Jack's test even from her teammates has led to widespread criticism of the governing body, but Swimming Australia chief executive Leigh Russell on Sunday told reporters the organisation is comfortable with its decision to follow the policies and process guidelines it shares with Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA).

However, Russell admitted two major areas of concern with Swimming Australia's handling of the crisis.

The decision to shield officials and coaches from the world's media gathered in Gwangju for the World Championships has now been conceded as a big blunder by Russell.

"I do accept the criticism that we did not have an official speak poolside last night and that Cate Campbell spoke on behalf of our team," she said.

 

Shayna Jack will miss the Olympics if the preliminary test result is upheld.
Shayna Jack will miss the Olympics if the preliminary test result is upheld.

"That was my call. In retrospect we could have done that differently, but I do want to acknowledge Cate for her leadership and our team's ongoing commitment to a clean sport."

Russell also conceded Swimming Australia will re-address its controversial policy surrounding its operations with ASADA.

She said the policy hinders Swimming Australia's ability to be transparent - the very thing that has led to accusations of lies and a cover-up right at the time when Horton's protest set Australia up as a self-appointed posterboy in the fight against doping in sport.

The cocktail of dramatic moves has seen Swimming Australia widely slammed for hanging Horton and fans of the sport out to dry.

Russell said Swimming Australia's hands were tied from ever speaking out about Jack's test by its agreed policy with ASADA.

Under the ASADA directive, Russell claims only the anti-doping authority or Jack herself are able to address the issue because of the confidentiality agreements in place.

Swimming Australia accepts that it is interested in investigating a change to the policy at "a later stage".

"I think that's a conversation that we'd be interested in having at a later stage," she said.

"Particularly it makes it tough for a national sporting organisations to be transparent and to ensure that you're getting the right information.

 

Australian sport has been left with egg all over its face.
Australian sport has been left with egg all over its face.

"The ASADA agreement requires Swimming Australia to maintain confidentiality until such time that ASADA or the individual athlete release details of an adverse test result.

"I accept that this is a frustrating position, but I also accept that Shayna has a right to a fair process. She has told us that she was planning to release the adverse test result this week. She said she wanted to wait until her teammates had finished competing."

Swimming commentators, including The Sunday Telegraph's swimming expert Jessica Halloran declared the policy must be changed to protect the sport.

Former ASADA chief Richard Ings also said the policy is fundamentally flawed.

 

 

 

 

Russell admitted the crisis has been "embarrassing" to the sport in Australia.

"It's both bitterly disappointing and embarrassing to our team, our sport and to our country. It does not in any way chage the zero tolerance view that Swimming Australia has and our continuing fight for a clean sport.

Meanwhile, Four-time world champion Chad le Clos says swimmers should be banned for life on their first strike for doping after hearing Jack had tested positive to a banned substance.

Jack raised eyebrows when she withdrew from the Dolphins' world titles team just days before the competition began, with officials initially citing "personal reasons".

But after learning the real reason behind sprinter Jack's departure, South African great le Clos admitted convicted dopers shouldn't be allowed to compete again.

"I'm not sure what the case is but my stance is always the same. If you test positive you shouldn't be allowed to swim," he said.

"Anybody that takes PEDs (performance enhancing drugs) shouldn't be allowed to swim, simple."

After initially refusing to elaborate on Jack's curious world titles team exit, Swimming Australia on Saturday confirmed the 20-year-old had actually failed a routine out of competition drug tests last month.

It is believed Jack failed the test at the Dolphins training camp in Cairns ahead of the world titles in South Korea.

Swimming Australia could not provide any more details about the results.

Jack denied wrongdoing on Saturday.

"I did not take this substance knowingly," Jack posted on Instagram.

"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 or jeopardise my career."

But American Lilly King savaged the swimmer later on Saturday. "She's a drug cheater," sniffed the Olympic champion.

"She has tested positive on a drugs test - doping is doping."

- with AAP, AFP

News Corp Australia

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