In a press conference today at the Swimming Australia headquarters, Swimming Australia CEO Leigh Russell declined to release the name of the substance that World Record holder Shayna Jack tested positive for that has kept her out of the World Championships.
Jack was originally scheduled to be racing in Gwangju this week at the World Championships, but returned home to Australia from the training camp for what was originally announced as “personal reasons.” It later turned out that those reasons were because Jack had tested positive for a banned substance.
Russell says that they do know the substance that Jack tested positive for, but would not share it with the media. In their earlier statement, Swimming Australia said that “under the specific legislation governing Australia‘s drug testing regime, Swimming Australia is notified of any adverse test result as is WADA and FINA. Under the process, all details are required to remain confidential until ASADA has completed its investigations, the athlete is afforded due process and an outcome determined.”
While Russell’s original statement, released on Friday Australia time, reiterated the organization’s hardline stance against doping (which has been highlighted this week by its athletes in Gwangju), in the press conference she offered both criticism and support for Jack.
“I am concerned for her as I would be anybody in this particular situation,” she said. “She will have unprecedented pressure placed upon her and I think that it would be good of us to remember that we are dealing and managing with a young person who is in a situation she’s never found herself in before.”
Jack is 20 years old, and Russell says that their is a formal support system in place to ensure athletes receive a fair process.
At one point in the press conference, however, Russell referred to the failed test as “bitterly disappointing and embarrassing,”
Russell also commented that she believes that Mack Horton would have moved forward with his protest of China’s Sun Yang, even if he knew about Jack’s pending proceedings. She said that Jack was trying to wait until after her teammates finished competing at the World Championships to announce the results of the test, and defended the organization’s policy to not speak publicly until either the Australian Sport Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA), or the athlete, announced the failed test.
This year’s World Championships has already seen two swimmers refuse to stand on the podium with China’s Sun Yang, the man who is seeking a public CAS hearing this Fall. One of the men refusing to acknowledge Sun in photographs was Mack Horton of Australia, who says the sport has no room for drug cheats, although now his countrymate is under the spotlight.
In terms of the International Swimming League (ISL), Jack had been named to the U.S.-based Cali Condors and her status there is now in potential jeopardy in light of this news. The league has been very vocal about zero-tolerance, a policy which has shut out the likes of past positive testers like the aforementioned Sun and Russia’s Yuliya Efimova, but has also denied non-positive testers like Thomas Fraser-Holmes.
Loretta Race contributed to this report.