SINGAPORE - A third swimmer, Commonwealth Games silver medallist Teong Tzen Wei, has admitted to consuming a controlled drug overseas, said Sport Singapore (SportSG) on Wednesday as the national governing body concluded its internal review into the matter.
Teong and two other national teammates, Olympic champion Joseph Schooling and Amanda Lim, have been issued letters of warning, and SportSG's support has been suspended for one month over breach of their athlete agreements.
Earlier, on Aug 30, Schooling and Lim were revealed to have had consumed cannabis overseas.
SportSG said it met Schooling, 27, Lim, 29, and Teong, 24, as part of its internal review, which concluded last week.
"SportSG has found that the three athletes had fallen short of the code of conduct expected of all TeamSG athletes as part of their athlete agreement," it said in a statement.
"SportSG takes the breaches of the code of conduct seriously. Team Singapore athletes are expected to hold the highest standards of conduct as they represent Singapore on the world stage and are role models for Singaporeans."
Teong said in a statement on Wednesday: “I would like to apologise to my family, my fellow swimmers and the Singapore Swimming Association. This is something I deeply regret doing, and as an elite athlete, I should have known better.
“I accept the sanctions given to me and I understand that as a national athlete, I have to adhere to a code of conduct that governs all athletes who wear the Singapore flag. I will strive to be a better version of myself and come back from this stronger.”
The three swimmers are carded athletes under the High Performance Scheme and will have their support suspended for one month, beginning from Oct 1. They will not receive training assistance grants or access to sports science and sports medicine facilities and services in this period.
They will also not be able to train at the OCBC Aquatic Centre or have access to any facilities, benefits or services accorded to high-performance athletes, added the Singapore Swimming Association.
Teong, who is also a Sports Excellence Scholarship recipient, will also have his scholarship benefits withdrawn for one month.
The scheme offers support to athletes who are deemed to have the potential to excel on the Asian and world stage. Aside from monthly stipends, scholarship holders also get support in education, sports science and nutrition, among others.
SportSG said on Wednesday that the trio had been investigated by the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) for drug-related offences but all their urine tests for controlled drugs came up negative.
However, all three admitted to consuming controlled drugs while they were part of Team Singapore - carded national athletes - overseas.
"The actions taken against the athletes underscore their responsibility and accountability as national athletes. In deciding on this course of action, SportSG took into account a range of factors, including the findings by CNB," the sports agency said.
It added that all three had cooperated fully in the review process, and readily admitted to the consumption. They expressed remorse for their actions and appealed to be given a second chance to prove themselves "and fulfil their roles and responsibilities as national athletes".
They also pledged not to abuse controlled drugs in the future, and vowed to "play a part in education and other efforts to prevent others from making the same mistake", SportSG added.
Lim was caught with a weed grinder upon her return to Singapore from the July 28-Aug 8 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and was subsequently issued a stern warning by the CNB under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
Schooling confessed to using cannabis during the SEA Games in May. As he is undergoing national service, he has been placed on a six-month SAF-supervised urine test regime as part of the treatment and rehabilitation process. He was also issued a formal letter of warning.
The Ministry of Defence also revoked his leave and NS disruption privileges, making it near impossible for him to go overseas to train or compete while in NS.
It is not known when Teong was implicated. SportSG did not respond to queries on why his case was not made public at the same time as the other two.
Teong is widely regarded as one of Singapore swimming’s rising stars. The 24-year-old, who halted his studies at the Singapore Management University to focus on swimming, has had a stellar 2022.
In May, he became the first man in South-east Asia to swim the 50m freestyle in under 22 seconds, clocking 21.93 seconds in Hanoi to claim the SEA Games gold. He also claimed the 50m butterfly gold at the same meet.
In June, he became the only Singaporean swimmer to make it to a final at the World Championships, finishing eighth in the 50m fly.
His red-hot form continued in July, when he picked up his first Commonwealth Games medal by finishing second in the 50m fly final.
He was rewarded with $35,000 at the Sept 14 MAP Awards presentation ceremony for his medal-winning efforts. The MAP is a private award scheme managed and administered by the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) and backed by the Tote Board.
Ironically, Schooling's ($13,750) and Lim’s ($3,750) rewards were held back that evening.
Unlike Schooling and Lim, who did not attend the ceremony at eatery Timbre+ Eastside @ Expo, Teong was present to collect his cheque but did not speak to media.
In response to queries from ST, an SNOC spokesman said: “The disciplinary committee will meet with the involved athletes soon and is projected to complete its findings in the next week.”
Teong’s prize money is also under review by the SNOC, and a decision on the cash rewards for all three will be determined after the proceedings are completed.