Earlier this year, Australian Olympic finalist Thomas Fraser-Holmes completed his 12-month ban for having missed 3 random drug tests over a 12-month period. Officially cut-off from the Dolphins national team both financially and training-wise, Fraser-Holmes began training again alone in December 2017 after having taken 6 months off. TFH paved his way back to competitive swimming by sealing up 400m IM silver at the 2018 Short Course World Championships in Hangzhou.
Now fully back in the swing of things and looking ahead, the 27-year-old has learned he will be excluded from the new International Swim League (ISL) due to its zero tolerance on doping, even with TFH’s unique circumstance of not actually having tested positive for a banned substance.
Per The Australian, TFH said “They [ISL]came back and said to me that because the sport of swimming needs to be protected from doping, they had to take a stand.”
He further stated,“It is what it is. I get what ISL is about, but surely there has to be a distinction in a doping offence between a whereabouts violation and a positive test. They are not in the same basket. Each case on its merits. There have been those who have offended on multiple occasions and people like me who have had a mishap.”
His situation does open questions regarding where represents true ‘zero’ in ‘zero tolerance’ when it comes to doping. Take the Madisyn Cox case, for example. The American tested positively for Trimetazidine, but a WADA-accredited lab was able to determine that the banned substance was present in both opened and sealed bottles of the multivitamin Cox had been taken for years and had listed on every doping control form she ever completed. Hence, the swimmer was essentially vindicated.
Back to TFH, the IMer stated that, in terms of the increasing hostility between the ISL and FINA, and the fact words such as ‘ban’ and ‘suspension’ were thrown about if swimmers were to compete at ISL events,“I’m just a big believer that the Olympics is the pinnacle of the sport and if they are threatening bans that would cost a swimmer the Olympics, I don’t think that’s worth it.
“I don’t think it (the ISL) is sustainable if that’s what it comes to. To me the most important thing is going to the Olympics and winning gold for my country. That is the ultimate. That is why I swam 12 months on my own. That is why I’m here today because I want to be able to swim for my country next year in Tokyo and try to win medals. This is where it becomes unsettling because if we don’t have our best people in Tokyo, how is that going to benefit Australia? That’s all I’m concerned with.”