SINGAPORE - National swimmer Joseph Schooling has apologised for consuming cannabis after he confessed to taking the drug overseas in May, when he was on a short-term disruption from full-time national service (NS) to train for and compete in the May 12-23 South-east Asia Games.
In a statement issued on Tuesday (Aug 30), former Olympic champion Schooling, 27, said: "I am sorry that my actions have caused hurt to everyone around me, especially to my family and the young fans who look up to me.
"I gave in to a moment of weakness after going through a very tough period of my life. I demonstrated bad judgment and I am sorry.
"I made a mistake and I'm responsible for what I've done. I will make amends and right what is wrong. I won't let you down again."
In November last year, Schooling suffered heartbreak at home with the death of his father Colin. The senior Schooling, who had been instrumental in his son's success, died at 73 following a battle with liver cancer.
The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said in a statement on Tuesday that Schooling had confessed to having consumed cannabis overseas in May.
National sports body Sport Singapore also revealed on Tuesday that the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) had investigated Schooling and fellow national swimmer Amanda Lim, 29, for consumption of cannabis.
Lim, who won a silver in the women’s 50m freestyle and was part of the gold-winning women’s 4x100m freestyle quartet at the Hanoi SEA Games, was subsequently issued a stern warning by CNB under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
The 11-gold SEA Games champion said on Tuesday: "To all my supporters, family and friends, I am deeply sorry for my actions. There is no excuse, and I will take the warning given to me seriously and reflect on my mistakes.
"My swimming career has been filled with many ups and downs over the past decade. Throughout the wins and losses, I’ve always strived to be better in and out of the pool. I will continue to work fully with Sport Singapore for the next steps to be taken, and do my best to become a better version of myself."
Mindef added on Tuesday that following existing protocol, Schooling will be placed on a supervised urine test regime for six months. All Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel who test positive during this regime will be charged and sentenced accordingly.
The Ministry said that given his abuse of disruption privileges, Schooling will no longer be eligible for leave or disruption to train or compete while in NS. This means he will likely miss next year’s SEA Games in Cambodia as well as the Asian Games in Hangzhou.
A formal letter of warning has also been issued to Schooling, informing him of the serious consequences of drug abuse meted out to all SAF personnel, who may be sentenced to up to nine months' detention in the SAF Detention Barracks.
News of Schooling’s cannabis consumption was the talk of the town last night, drawing mixed responses from netizens, as many took to social media to criticise or express their support for the swimmer.
Mr Desmond Loh wrote on ST’s Facebook page: “As an athlete, this is totally unacceptable. You (Schooling) are trained to handle pressure at the highest level. And yet you gave in to a moment of weakness.
“You are a role model to many aspiring swimmers out there and you have failed them. I hope you wake up from this mess you created and learn from it.”
Another user WyinMimi Lee wrote: “No one is perfect... he deserves a second chance as long as one sincerely apologise/repent.
“What’s done has been done. Let us all move on, close this chapter and hope Schooling has learnt from his mistakes.”