Swim chief denies Jack drug test cover-up
SWIMMING Australia chief executive Leigh Russell says her organisation was forced by protocol to remain silent after swimmer Shayna Jack's failed drug test, denying it tried to cover up the issue.
Jack was suspended and sent home from the World Championships in South Korea after she returned an abnormal "A sample" during routine testing at a pre-championships training camp in Cairns.
The revelation comes after a week of stunning anti-doping protests against China, during which Jack's teammate Mack Horton refused to share the medal podium with Chinese megastar Sun Yang. Jack said initially she was leaving the squad for "personal reasons".
However, the 20-year-old from Brisbane finally confirmed the positive test result after being contacted by News Corp Australia but claimed she did not ingest a banned substance "knowingly".
Speaking in Melbourne today, Ms Russell said contractual obligations from an agreement with ASADA prohibited Swimming Australia from commenting publicly until either ASADA or the athlete released details of an adverse test result - a stance that was later backed by ASADA.
"I accept that this is a frustrating position but I also accept that Shayna has a right to a fair process. She has told us she was preparing to announce the adverse test result this week. She said she wanted to wait until her teammates had finished competing."
Ms Russell said Swimming Australia was "in a really difficult position" not being able to speak out until now.
"We have a very clear policy in place that dictates who we can talk to about any particular matter. The rule is very clear for us, we must wait until ASADA or the particular athlete speaks on any matter."
She said the organisation was unable to disclose the prohibited substance to which Jack had tested positive.
Ms Russell told a media conference in Melbourne this morning that the ASADA investigation could take "some months".
"We're not expecting a quick resolution to this process," she said.
Ms Russell said Jack's Australian swimming teammates were only notified yesterday.
Asked about the potential penalty, she said that was a matter for ASADA.
"While the process is underway we can't make comment on that."
She added that they would accept ASADA's decision.
"We would follow all the rules and regulations that we have to follow under our policy and we would obviously honour any kind of sanction that is imposed."
Ms Russell said Jack was at home with her family and was being offered help.
"She's got incredible support around her from her family, her friends but also more formal support that we've put in place."
"She's a 20-year-old young Australian who has been working hard for her country for a long time. Swimming's a brutal sport, it takes deep commitment. It is all about high performance at the end. I am concerned for her as I would be anybody in this particular situation. She will have unprecedented pressure placed upon her and I think it would be good of us to remember that we are dealing with and managing a young person who is in a situation she's never found herself in before."
She rejected suggestions that the scandal would undermine Australia's stance against drug cheats.
"While an Australian athlete returning an adverse result is both bitterly disappointing and embarrassing to our team, our sport and our country, it does not in any way change the zero tolerance view that Swimming Australia has and our continuing fight for a clean sport.
"Our view is there is no place in sport for any performance enhancing drugs."
"I also want to make it clear that Shayna is entitled to a natural justice and a fair process and that process is continuing."
She said she expected the failed drug test would not deter Mack Horton and others who have publicly protested against Chinese swimmer Sun Yang.
"I think that Mack has made a stand for something he truly believes in."
Ms Russell said it was her call to allow Cate Campbell to front the media last night.
"I do accept the criticism that we did not have an official speak poolside last night and that Cate Campbell spoke on behalf of the team. That was my call, in retrospect we could have done that differently but I do want to acknowledge Cate and her leadership and ongoing commitment to a clean sport."
ASADA released a statement this afternoon confirming it had a confidentiality undertaking with Swimming Australia for the protection of privacy of personal information.
"The confidentiality undertaking prohibited Swimming Australia from comment. From the
outset ASADA has been working closely with Swimming Australia," it said.
The anti-doping body said it was undertaking an ongoing investigation and would not be making further comment.