Australian swimmer Shayna Jack’s four-year doping ban has been reduced by two years following an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Ahead of her maiden Olympic Games, Jack returned a positive test for the banned substance ligandrol in July last year.
She was immediately sent home from the Australian team’s training camp in Japan and withdrawn from the 2019 FINA World Championships.
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Ligandrol, also known as or LGD 4033, is a black market muscle-builder known to improve your appearance without the unwanted side effects experienced with steroid use.
Jack has repeatedly pleaded her innocence, and the Swiss-based CAS decided to cut the 22-year-old’s ban in half on appeal, meaning she will be allowed to return to the pool next year.
“The Sole Arbitrator in charge of this matter found, on the balance of probabilities, that Shayna Jack did not intentionally ingest ligandrol and considered that she had discharged her onus of proving that the anti-doping rule violation was not intentional,” CAS said in its ruling.
“As a consequence, the Sole Arbitrator imposed a reduced period of ineligibility of two years, commencing on the date of her provisional suspension.”
Although the decision saves her professional career, she will still not be allowed to compete at next year’s postponed Olympic Games in Tokyo because the trials are scheduled before her ban ends in July 2021.
If she qualifies for the Dolphins, the earliest Jack could represent Australia again is at the world championships in Japan in May 2022.
Regardless, the decision vindicated her claim she was innocent of any wrong-doing.
READ MORE: Shayna Jack opens up on ‘living nightmare’
Jack posted an emotional message to her Instagram on Monday evening after discovering the verdict.
“The CAS have confirmed in emphatic terms that I did not intentionally, knowingly or recklessly use ligandrol in any manner,” Jack wrote.
“There was no evidence produced by my accusers as to how this substance entered my system. With the time out of the sport dating back to July 2019, I will be eligible to return to competitive swimming by July 2021.
“The anti-doping rules are far from satisfactory and can produce results that are far from fair. In my case, I have proven that I have NOT ever cheated, nor used prohibited substances intentionally or knowingly.
“I will still incur two years out of the sport in which I love. I cannot change the rules and the rules will remain as they are for the time being. Therefore, I accept this decision with a positive attitude and with gratitude that my career as a swimmer will resume next year.
“I have never doubted myself for a minute throughout this ordeal and I have never allowed my integrity to be compromised. I walk a little taller tonight with the fact that this ordeal is finally over.
“I am returning to swimming – the sport that I have loved all my life and the sport that I will cherish just that little bit more ongoing. I want to thank everyone that has been in my corner – my family have been my rock and my partner has been a godsend.
“My teammates and supporting public have been a source of strength and I cannot be any more appreciative. I’m going to take some time to reflect and realign my goals and aspirations for the future, now that I finally have a resolution for this case.
“I look forward to sharing further events in relation to my experience at the appropriate time.”
Jack received an outpouring of support after Monday evening’s announcement. Former Australian teammate Cate Campbell responded: “Proud of you Shayna! You have been so strong throughout everything. Sending love your way.”
Olympic swimmer James Magnussen posted: “What a weight lifted! Congrats and good luck with preparations now.”
Former Wallaby Nick Cummins commented: “Yeeeeeeeesssssss! To endure that court and media circus it takes so much strength, respect. The AOC need to sort out the way they treat our Aussie competitors.”
Australian cricket great Mitchell Johnson replied: “Great news, you’re one tough cookie.”
Brisbane Heat batsman Chris Lynn, Australian swimmer Minna Atherton and hockey star Kieran Govers also congratulated Jack on social media.
The Age journalist Chip Le Grand tweeted: “There is a growing body of anti-doping sports law showing that, to allow for inadvertent contamination, WADA needs to introduce minimum concentrations for positive tests. This is a good result for Shayna Jack in the circumstances but still unjust.”
Radio presenter Ian Blacklet tweeted: “This is just ridiculous and nowhere good enough. It’s unbelievable in this day and age it takes 17 months for these self righteous self absorbed bureaucratic control freaks to make a decision on Shayna Jack’s swimming future.”
Jack was a gold medallist during the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, and holds the world record for the 4x100m freestyle relay event. She recently appeared on Channel 7 reality show SAS Australia.
Speaking to Channel 10’s The Sunday Project in December last year, Jack noted the surprising commonality of the Ligandrol drug, unveiling her bizarre “kiss cocaine” defence.
“The more you look into it, and the more you speak to people about it, the more you find out that it’s actually everywhere,” Jack said.
“I had a lot of people come forward and tell me they take this drug — general people who go to the gym. Some people were using it as a recovery. People informed me they took it as a drop.
“There was a case in the past called the kiss cocaine case … someone had taken cocaine and the partner who was an athlete kissed that person and they were contaminated.
“I was being told that anything I come in contact with, within that period, could have been a risk of the contamination.
“There’s a chance of it being in a contaminated supplement.”