Australian swimmer Shayna Jack has broken down talking about her drug ban as the desperate fight to clear her name continues.
The World Championships and Commonwealth Games medallist was one of the rising stars of the pool until her world came crashing down in 2019 when she tested positive to banned muscle-builder Ligandrol.
The Queenslander, 22, appealed her four year ban and had it halved in November after the Court of Arbitration found that she did not knowingly ingest the prohibited substance.
But Sport Integrity Australia and World Anti-Doping Association have since appealed the revised two-year ban to get clarity anti-doping legal principles.
Swimmer Shayna Jack (pictured) was an Olympic hopeful for Tokyo before she tested to banned substance Ligandrol in 2019
This put Jack back in limbo and in danger of her career being derailed entirely, and facing thousands more in legal costs.
Jack has opened up on her ongoing two-and-a-half-year nightmare ordeal to ABC’s Australian Story and her personal fight against ‘an archaic, unjust and punitive system’.
‘One day I was an elite athlete and the next day, everything that I knew had just been taken away from me in one moment,’ she says in a preview for Monday night’s episode.
‘If something is in your body, it’s your fault. I had to fight for my career.
‘I don’t want other athletes to have to go through what I’ve been through. One day someone’s not going to get through it.’
Her mum Pauline recalled the heavy toll the high-profile saga has had on her daughter.
‘We were very worried about her mental state,’ she said.
Swimming champion Cate Campbell also spoke out in support of her former teammate.
‘It could have happened to me,’ she told the program.
Shayna Jack (pictured) has broken her silence about the drug ban to ABC’s Australian Story
Shayna (pictured right) believes the drug could have ended up in her system after using a contaminated blender used by her brothers or boyfriend (left)
The case has sparked widespread debate about world anti-doping rules where Jack has support from an unlikely corner.
‘We’ve had dozens of cases where athletes are dealing with low level positives caused by meat contamination or intimacy with a partner, multivitamin or mineral or supplement contamination,’ US Anti-Doping Agency boss Travis Tygart told the program.
‘It’s the rules that have to be changed to be more fair.’
Former Swimming Australia boss Leigh Russell added: ‘It’s not guilty or innocent, there’s a lot more to it.’
Jack decided to share her story to ‘stand up for what’s right in sport’.
‘My fight is not just for me though – it is for all the athletes who inevitably are exposed to this system and it is also about standing up for what is right in sport,’ she posted on Instagram on Thursday night.
‘My story tells the public about how an indefensible system punishes athletes in the most punitive way for providing an unintentional positive test. I want to thank ‘everyone who has continued to support me throughout this fight!’
Ms Russell was Swimming Australia boss when Jack was sent home in disgrace from the 2019 World Championships in South Korea after the results of her sample from a competition in Cairns weeks earlier.
‘Very quickly it turned into absolute hysteria and it was a real lynch mob,’ she recalled.
Shayna Jack’s mum Pauline (right) told the program she was concerned for her daughter’s mental state during the ordeal.
Shayna Jack (far left) and her teammates won gold in the 100m Freestyle Relay Final at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018. Cate Campbell (far right) has spoken out in support of her teammate
Jack sad she ‘may never know for sure’ how she ingested the banned substance.
She revealed in November that a contaminated blender used by her boyfriend or brothers could have been the possible source of her positive drugs test.
Another possibility is that it could have been in supplements she was taking were contaminated or came into contact with the banned substance while using a public pool or gym in Queensland while training for the 2019 world titles.
The court’s sole arbitrator Alan Sullivan QC applauded Jack’s refusal to blame anyone else for the fact she had tested positive.
‘Even though it would have perhaps suited her case to blame others, she refused to attribute such blame,’ the court heard.
‘She appeared to be completely straightforward, genuine and honest in the answers she gave.
‘Her demeanour was excellent and her dismay at the situation she found herself in was evident. She became emotional at times in giving her evidence, but not inappropriately or theatrically so.’
The last two-and-a-half-years have taken a heavy toll on freestyle swimmer Shayna Jack
Jack and her family have already spent $130,000 of their life savings trying to clear her name
A GoFundMe has been set up to help fight the latest appeal.
”If she cannot pay the court costs associated with this new case within the given time, the appeal will be considered abandoned, and a maximum penalty may apply,’ the page states.
‘Shayna nor her family no longer have the funds to continue the fight.
‘Her sport of swimming, which she’s dedicated her life to, are prevented by rules that do not allow them to assist in any financial way. This leaves Shayna having to fight these funded sporting authorities on her own.
‘This fight is not just about Shayna. This is about standing up for what is right and the future of integrity in sport.’
Jack is currently eligible to return to competitive swimming in July 2021 but will be unable to compete at the Tokyo Olympics.
Former NRL journeyman James Segeyaro tested positive to the same banned substance as Ms Jack in October 2019. He is still fighting to clear his name.
Fellow NRL star Michael Jennings was provisionally stood down last month after the 32-year-old tested positive to both Ligandrol and Ibutamoren on September 21.
She’s pictured after winning gold at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games
WHAT EXACTLY IS LIGANDROL?
Ligandrol drastically increases muscle mass.
It is what pharmacists call a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM).
These drugs bind at specific sites on skeletal muscles. There, they initiate a cascade of processes which change the expression of different genes in the DNA of muscle cells. The end effect is an increase in the repair and growth of muscle.
This means Ligandrol works in a similar way to testosterone and anabolic steroids, although SARMs typically have fewer side effects.
The typical side effects of anabolic steriods can include short-term aggression and violence, acne, and sleeping difficulties, and long-term effects such as damage to the liver and kidneys, depression, and high blood pressure.
Because Ligandrol can potentially be used to gain an advantage in competitive sports, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) placed the drug on its prohibited list.
Source: The University of Sydney