Australian swimming star Shayna Jack faces a ban that looks set to sideline her for the Tokyo Olympics after revealing her B sample tested positive for the drug Ligandrol.
It was believed Jack was still waiting for B sample results after SwimmingAustralia’s shock announcement on Saturday that the 20-year-old had tested positive for a banned substance. However, Jack posted on social media on Sunday it had come back positive on 19 July. It tested positive for Ligandrol, a non-steroid anabolic agent popular with bodybuilders and used for increasing muscle mass.
“On Friday the 19th of July my ‘B sample’ results were in,” she posted. “I had felt a sense of hope knowing I didn’t take this substance and that it was all a mistake during the testing and that I could return to compete for my country and with the team, however, that wasn’t the case. As I read the results, my brain couldn’t even comprehend what I was seeing.”
Jack said she had never heard of Ligandrol – a prescription-only drug – let alone pronounce it but believed it was found in “contaminated supplements”. She protested her innocence and vowed to clear her name as she faced an Asada ban that will almost certainly shatter her dream of competing at the Olympics.
“Deep down, I feel I shouldn’t have to defend my reputation as I know that I didn’t do this,” she said. “I get tested approximately every four to six weeks so why would I take anything banned and do this to myself? Especially leading up to competition where I could be tested daily. Why would I put myself through this anguish and risk jeopardising my career and my character? I did not and would not cheat and will continue to fight to clear my name.”
Swimming Australia said it could not comment on the B sample news until Asada announced its sanction. Jack’s claim the B sample results came back on 19 July – two days before the world swimming titles started in South Korea – are a revelation.
SA officials and head coach Jacco Verhaeren at the world titles at Gwangju have only spoken of an A sample following confirmation of Jack’s positive test. SA chief executive Leigh Russell said on Sunday she understood Jack had planned to reveal the positive test on her A sample later this week – after the world titles ended when it wouldn’t be a distraction for the Dolphins – before the bombshell dropped.
She said confidentiality required by SA’s agreement with national anti-doping body Asada meant it was not allowed to reveal Jack’s test after the 20-year-old was notified and sent home from the team training camp in Japan on 12 July, initially citing “personal reasons”.
“I do want to say that while an Australian athlete returning an adverse result is both bitterly disappointing and embarrassing to our team, our sport and our country, it does not in any way change the zero-tolerance view that Swimming Australia has, and our continuing fight for a clean sport,” Russell said on Sunday.
The news of Jack’s failed test sat awkwardly with Australian swimmer Mack Horton’s high profile protests during the swimming championships. Horton refused to stand on the podium alongside China’s Sun Yang, who served a drug ban in 2014 and allegedly smashed vials of his blood during a drug test.
Russell denied Horton had made a mistake in staging the protest. “No, I think Mack has made a stand on something he truly believes in, and I think we actually have the same stance, we absolutely do not want drugs in our sport,” she said.
“We’re in a really difficult position where we’re not able to inform our team, inform anybody else of the particulars of this matter. So we were in no position to let our team know at any stage up until we were able to tell them yesterday.”
Horton told Seven News he had not learned of Jack’s positive test result until Saturday.
“I was disappointed to learn late yesterday that a fellow Dolphins team member had recently returned a positive A sample,” he said. “I applaud the decision to immediately withdraw the athlete in question from further competition until this matter is resolved.
“My position remains firm — clean sport must be a priority for all athletes, all sports and all nations.”
In November 2018, Asada issued a blog warning about the rise of Ligandrol, also known as LGD-4033. It said there had been 15 positive tests from 2015-17 – nine in 2017, six in 2016 and two in 2015.
“It is claimed to be a substance that induces muscle [and bone] growth without the side effects associated with steroid use,” the Asada blog said. “However, information on the safety of LGD-4033 is scarce due to a lack of medium and long-term clinical trials – hence the medium and long-term health impacts are unknown.”