Australian media is reporting that 3 notable Australian swimmers are facing possible competition bans due to a series of absences for routine, out-of-competition drug testing. Swimming Australia also confirmed it “has recently been informed by ASADA and FINA that members of the Australian Dolphins Swim team may have failed to update their whereabouts appropriately over the previous 12-month period”.
Olympic silver medalist in the women’s 200m butterfly, Maddie Groves, and fellow Rio teammates Thomas Fraser-Holmes and open water swimmer Jarrod Poort are all named by The Daily Telegraph as having missed 3 drug tests over a 12-month period, violating testing protocols.
Per The Daily Telegraph, Groves’ drug test administrator was unable to track the swim star down in San Diego, California, the locale at which Groves has been training as of late. ‘The drug tester went to the accommodation’s front office, which was unattended, and there was no further attempt to find Groves except by telephone. The drug tester left after an hour,” reads the article.
As for Fraser-Holmes, who, like Groves, is changing up his training regimen by not competing at this year’s World Championships, he says his missed testing was due to an unexpected dinner delay. “An extended dinner at his mum’s Gold Coast house delayed him getting home on time for his nominated 8-9pm time period for an unannounced drug test,” according to The Daily Telegraph.
“It was five to nine and I realised I needed to be home,” Fraser-Holmes said. “The only thing I did in that situation was to go on the app and change my whereabouts time, to 9.15-10.15, so I left my mum’s house straight away and I got home at 9.10pm.
“No one was there. At the time I didn’t know that the drug testers had been there. Two weeks on I got an email saying I could potentially have a third strike.”
Sports Lawyer Tim Fuller is representing Groves and Fraser-Holmes and expresses openly he feels the swimmers may have been ‘targeted’.
“It’s interesting that FINA have targeted two athletes who have never returned a positive test for a prohibited substance,” Fuller said. “Seemingly they are going after them for an alleged technical breach.” Poort has reportedly not yet made public comments on the situation.
A possible ban to the tune of 2 years would be extra devastating for Australian athletes, as the nation is set to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. Several swimmers, such as James Magnussen and Cate Campbell, are opting out of this year’s World Championships and are instead targeting the Commonwealth Games as their next major international competition.
Update since original publishing; Comment by Mark Anderson, CEO of Swimming Australia:
“Both Swimming Australia and our athletes have been very clear on our position in relation to anti-doping both here in Australia and internationally. Each athlete is accountable and responsible for accurately providing their locations so testers can access them when required.” (Washington Post)