On Tuesday morning in Australia, media reports began to circulate that Shayna Jack had been given a 4-year anti-doping ban by the Australian anti-doping body ASANA. A closer examination of the facts, however, indicate that no doping ban has been given yet.
ASADA has released several statements this week hoping to quell certain criticisms around its and Swimming Australia’s investigation into Jack after she tested positive for Lingandrol at a pre-World Championship training camp. While the statements have not explicitly named Jack, they have been obviously referring to her.
Two statements (which can be read at the end of this post) defend Swimming Australia’s choice to not announce that Jack positive test until she posted about it on social media – instead relying on the “personal reasons” explanation.
Further review of the information that some media outlets have called Jack being “handed a 4 year ban” illuminate that no decision on a ban has been made; rather, it appears that Jack has simply been sent a letter outlining the process for reducing a ban and the sentencing guidelines. Under the latest anti-doping guidelines, which took effect in 2016, all first time doping failures face a maximum 4-year ban. By proving some degree of unintentional ingestion in the eyes of the sanctioning body, the athlete can reduce the ban to 2 years. Historically, this has been a fairly low bar to cross, as it relies mostly on a panel’s belief in a credibility of an athlete. A lack of prior doping violations and any evidence of an athlete’s care in preventing accidental ingestion (for example, if an athlete has their supplements regularly tested) have been used to make this jump from 4 years to 2 years.
After that, any further reduction from a positive test relies not so much on the degree of benefit provided by the substance; rather, it requires an athlete to prove the source of contamination, such as a tainted supplement, food, mislabeled pills, or in the most nefarious cases: sabotage.
ASADA reinforced that no ban had been given in another cryptic statement on Tuesday that once again did not name Jack, but as written could have only been referring to Jack.
“Under ASADA’s process an athlete is never officially sanctioned whilst an investigation is being conducted. The time taken to finalise an investigation and complete our legislative process varies but can take several weeks/months due to a range of factors including affording athletes procedural fairness.”
In short, any headlines indicating that a decision on Jack’s sanction has been decided are in error. Jack, for her part, continues to maintain that she did not knowingly take the substance, and says that she is working to figure out a source of contamination.
Jack’s “B” sample test also came back positive.
Very few 4 year bans have been handed out in swimming since the new guidelines went into affect, though the most notable has been to Italian two-time World Champion Filippo Magnini.
Statement on confidentiality process:
On 22 September 2015, Swimming Australia executed a confidentiality undertaking with ASADA for the protection of privacy of personal information.
Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) has entered into multiple individual confidentiality undertakings with sporting organisations for the purposes of the National Anti-Doping Scheme.
The confidentiality undertaking prohibited Swimming Australia from comment. From the outset ASADA has been working closely with Swimming Australia.
The publication of information is often complex and is regulated through a range of governance instruments including the World Anti-Doping Code and Privacy Standard, ASADA legislation, the Privacy Act and our binding agreements with sports all to be considered.
ASADA is Australia’s independent National Anti-Doping Organisation with the ability to utilise legislative powers to conduct thorough anti-doping investigations.
ASADA continues to undertake an ongoing investigation in relation to this matter and will not be making further comment.
Explanation of process, further defense of confidentiality:
The following statement is intended to provide information about the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority’s (ASADA) processes and should not be attributed to an individual case.
Since 2006, ASADA has been entering into legally binding confidentiality undertakings with sporting organisations in accordance with provisions contained in the National Anti-Doping scheme. These undertakings restrict what sporting organisations can say. This is, and always has been, ASADA’s standard practice. One of the reasons as to why ASADA has these agreements is to protect the integrity of our investigations.
As a leading anti-doping organisation ASADA is one of a few anti-doping organisations globally that has investigation powers under legislation. It is ASADA’s standard practice to conduct a thorough investigation in relation to all allegations of doping in Australian sport, including when an athlete returns a ‘positive’ test result for a non-specified prohibited substance. This enables ASADA to assess the veracity of an athlete’s claims and determine whether other athletes or support persons are involved in a broader anti-doping issue, as well as taking into account the rights and welfare of the athlete.
More importantly, our investigations enable ASADA to target facilitators who may be preying on Australian sport and our athletes.
Australians’ demand that our athletes compete on a level playing field and ASADA’s investigative powers and capability are an instrumental tool in ensuring that we lead the way in this area.
Not all anti-doping organisations have investigative powers and capabilities. Their processes are often limited to merely publicising a provisional suspension and then progressing a case with limited information or detail. By comparison, ASADA goes to great lengths to get to the core of potential anti-doping violations.
The assessment by ASADA as to whether information is disclosed publicly is made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the facts and circumstances of the matter.
Often it is not in ASADA’s interests for our investigation to be public in the early phase of our processes. In simple terms, what would a facilitator of doping do if they were to become aware of ASADA’s investigation? From our experience, evidence could be destroyed, or our investigation frustrated by the fact that it was subject to public commentary.
Despite our powers, ASADA can never restrict an athlete’s right to discuss or talk about their case in public.
ASADA CEO, David Sharpe says, “Athletes around the world are confused by these processes and more efforts should be undertaken by sports leaders to inform athletes.”
Further information on ASADA’s anti-doping rule violation process is available on the ASADA website.
Timeline of Events, by SwimSwam’s Loretta Race:
- June 26th – Date of the doping test.
- July 14th – Via her personal Instagram account, Jack announces her shock withdrawal from the World Championships, despite having traveled and practicing with the Aussie squad at their staging camp.
- July 27th – Again via her personal Instagram account, Jack, reveals her positive doing test, but does not explain the substance involved, nor the fact that both the A and B samples were positive.
- July 27th – Swimming Australia releases an official comment on Jack, but does not disclose the substance involved. CEO Leigh Russell stated, “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.”
- July 28th – Jack announces via Instagram that she tested positive for Ligandrol. Also known as selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) LGD-4033, was originally developed for the treatment of muscle wasting conditions such as aging, osteoporosis, muscular dystrophy and cancer, is promoted as a selective non-steroidal anabolic agent. (Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority).
- July 28th – Former ASADA head Richard Ings questions the handling of informing the public by Swimming Australia, saying “If Swimming Australia is suggesting that their anti-doping policy, approved by ASADA, forbids them from announcing the Jack provisional suspension, they are wrong.”
- Aussie Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren also speaks, saying, “We are not trying to cover anything up. We don’t play a game. She’s [Jack] not here [in Gwangju] and it shows that the Australian system works.”
- July 29th – Jack suspended from ISL pending outcome of anti-doping proceedings.