The heat may be on Swimming Australia over their handling of Shayna Jack’s doping drama but the governing body’s CEO Leigh Russell says the sprint star only has herself to blame over her positive drug test.
Although Russell admits the 20-year-old may have made a simple mistake, Jack faces a ban that looks set to shatter her Tokyo Olympics dream after revealing on social media on Sunday that her B sample had tested positive.
Jack says she will fight to clear her name.
Russell conceded Jack may have simply slipped up and ingested something without fully knowing its contents. But the SA CEO had no sympathy for the member of Australia’s world record breaking 4x100m freestyle relay team.
“I do think that people can make mistakes, and seemingly and inadvertently be taking things,” she said. “It does take a high level of care and vigilance, they [athletes] are not living like normal human beings.
“It stands to reason that from time to time you are going to get people who have potentially not realised that something is on the list. But it doesn’t matter, it is their fault.”
Jack may be under fire but critics have taken aim at SA after they remained silent when the sprinter was told her A sample had tested positive to a non-steroid anabolic agent popular with bodybuilders – Ligandrol – on 12 July.
She was sent home the same day from Australia’s world titles training camp in Japan, citing “personal reasons”.
It led to the awkward situation where the few SA officials who knew of Jack’s positive test could only look on silently as Olympic champion Mack Horton launched an anti-doping protest at the world titles in South Korea, completely oblivious of the fact his former teammate had tested positive.
Then eyebrows were raised when Jack revealed on Instagram on Sunday that her B sample also tested positive on 19 July, two days before the world championships started at Gwangju.
Russell had only referred to an A sample when she addressed the media on Sunday to slam Jack’s positive test as “bitterly disappointing and embarrassing for the national swimming team, the sport and the country”.
Russell also indicated they were still waiting on the B test. She said confidentiality required by SA’s agreement with national anti-doping body Asada did not allow them to reveal Jack’s initial A sample test.
Russell said Jack had been planning to reveal the A sample positive test after the world titles ended on Sunday so it would not be a distraction for the Dolphins.
But the truth came out on Saturday when media reports broke that Jack’s A sample had tested positive, creating a major distraction for the Australian team that still had two days left in their world titles campaign at Gwangju.
Former Asada CEO Richard Ings led the chorus of disapproval over SA’s handling of the issue.
“Swimming Australia seem a little out of their depth on this matter,” he told Ten Network. “Sports globally do announce provisional suspensions [after A sample tests positive] because you can’t keep a secret when a top, famous athlete suddenly disappears from competition.
“I hope the rules change to allow Asada and Swimming Australia to make announcements in future.”