SYDNEY • Australian swimmer Shayna Jack was yesterday notified that she faces a four-year suspension after testing positive for a banned drug, unless she can prove her innocence.
Jack, part of Australia's 4x100m freestyle team that set a world record last year, tested positive for the banned drug Ligandrol, which helps build muscle mass, out of competition late last month.
The Daily Telegraph said the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (Asada) had told her she will receive a four-year suspension, the standard penalty for athletes who test positive for anabolic agents, but will be able to contest the sanction as part of normal processes.
Jack, 20, returned home days before the world championships in South Korea, citing "personal reasons".
On Sunday, she strenuously denied intentionally taking the banned substance, which she intimated could be found in contaminated supplements.
Swimming Australia head coach Jacco Verhaeren, who arrived back in Brisbane from the meet yesterday, said he believed Jack could "definitely" bounce back from the doping scandal.
"There are cases where the athlete's name is cleared and it was all a mistake or contamination or whatever it was. And sure, they come back from that," he noted.
The revelation has proved a huge embarrassment for Australian swimming, coming after Olympic champion Mack Horton's high-profile protest against Chinese rival Sun Yang in Gwangju, South Korea.
The 400m freestyle silver medallist refused to share a podium with winner Sun, who was cleared of wrongdoing after being accused of smashing vials of blood following a test last year. The decision is the subject of a World Anti-Doping Agency appeal to be heard in September.
Chinese state media have had a field day over Jack's failed drug test, accusing the Australia swim team of "utter hypocrisy" and a "cover-up" following their much-publicised campaign against Sun.
A commentary in Xinhua read: "By lying to the public regarding the Jack case, Swimming Australia has lost every ounce of credibility in its defence of Mack Horton's podium stunt aimed at Sun Yang.
"Swimming Australia is not interested in due process, nor is it interested in protecting clean sport."
Australia's newspapers have also given front page coverage to the incident, while the social media backlash has been swift, with Jack being inundated by trolls calling for her to be banned and denouncing her as a "hypocrite".
Her manager Phil Stoneman insisted on Monday she did not ingest the drug via supplement tablets and was now examining her diet.
"It could be meat, it could be mushrooms, it could be anything. It could be something in a bottle," he told national broadcaster ABC. "It's a bit of a jigsaw puzzle as to how this has come into her system."
The repercussions are, however, beginning to be felt after the International Swimming League (ISL) issued a ban on Jack for its inaugural series in October.
She had been slated to feature for the Cali Condors team in the lucrative competition, which is not sanctioned by world swimming governing body Fina, but instead will now be preparing to face Asada in Canberra on Friday when she will begin the fight to clear her name.
Billed as "the Champions League of swimming", the ISL's budget for the first season comes in at US$20 million (S$27.3 million) and the competition holds a firm line on doping.
Confirming Jack's selection had been revoked for the meets to be held in Europe and the United States, ISL managing director Andrea di Nino said: "This is another case that serves to reiterate our stance on banned substances... No such behaviour will be condoned."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN