On his former coach Brett Hawke‘s podcast “Inside with Brett Hawke” last week, Roland Schoeman revealed he apologized to Cesar Cielo (also a former Hawke disciple) for past critical comments after Cielo had a positive anti-doping test in 2011.
“Heading into it, or beforehand, there was a level of judgement or ignorance on my part. I think specifically to when Cesar tested positive,” Schoeman says. “I think most athletes function from a level of ignorance because it’s not currently in their awareness – testing positive. After I tested positive, and the results came out, I sent a message to Cesar and said ‘I’m so sorry. Because I judged you based on a level of ignorance, or a perception within my conscious that didn’t take everything into consideration.'”
When the world record holder Cielo and three of his Brazilian teammates tested positive for the banned diuretic furosemide in May 2011, his South African contemporary Schoeman vocally objected to the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision to uphold a lack of punishment for three of the swimmers (Vinicius Waked was given a one-year ban).
In an editorial he penned for The Swimmers Circle (which later became part of SwimSwam), and in a since-deleted tweet, Schoeman said that CAS “set a dangerous precedent,” and that the four were indisputably “guilty of a doping offense.” Adding fuel to Schoeman’s fire was that Cielo was cleared in time to competed at the 2011 World Championships.
CAS let Cielo and two teammates off under the precedent that banned substance had been ingested accidentally via a contaminated, prescribed caffeine supplement.
Almost exactly eight years later, Schoeman found himself in a similar situation. The then-38-year-old tested positive for banned substance GW501516 in May 2019, a drug obtained on the black market and considered to be a cancer risk. The test did not become public until February 2020, when it was announced that Schoeman is serving a one-year ban retroactive to the initial positive test.
Schoeman spend about $16,500 to test over 20 supplements for a source of contamination, and was not able to find one, but got off with a one-year ban for a variety of reasons that lead the FINA Doping Panel to believe he ingested the substance accidentally (infractions of this type usually get two years).
Despite the ban, the Olympic postponement opens the door for Schoeman to qualify for a fifth Games after he is reinstated on May 18. He would have missed South African Nationals, which were originally scheduled for April 4-9, but were rescheduled even before the delay was official.
Check out Schoeman’s full interview below: