Teammates left in limbo after Aussie swimmer's doping hearing

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read
Christian Sprenger, James Magnussen, Matt Targett, and Hayden Stoeckel, pictured here at the 2012 Olympics.
Christian Sprenger, James Magnussen, Matt Targett, and Hayden Stoeckel with their bronze medals after the 4x100m medley relay final at the 2012 Olympics. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Brenton Rickard has had a hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after retrospective testing showed a diuretic in the Aussie swimmer’s sample from the 2012 London Olympics.

Rickard, 37, swam a breaststroke leg in a heat of the 4x100m medley at the London Games but was replaced for the final, in which Australia won bronze.

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His positive test for the masking agent furosemide means all Australians who swam in the medley, in heats and finals, could lose their bronze medals.

The CAS said the hearing was conducted by video link and that the case would be “conducted on a confidential basis, with the award, a summary and/or a press release setting forth the results of the proceedings only being made public by CAS if any sanctions are imposed, once the award is final and binding”.

Brenton Rickard, pictured here at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Brenton Rickard in action during the heats at the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Rickard, James Magnussen, Christian Sprenger, Hayden Stoeckel, Matt Targett and Tommaso D'Orsogna contested the event at the London Games.

Australia has never been stripped of a medal at the Olympics before.

The IOC stores samples for several years to have them available for re-tests in the case of doping suspicion or enhanced test methods.

The retired swimmer’s lawyer Rebekah Giles told AAP that the furosemide in Rickard’s sample was likely a known contaminant of an over-the-counter medication.

Giles previously said rules on proving innocence at the CAS hearing were stacked against Rickard given the eight-year lapse in time between the original test and re-test.

Brenton Rickard’s ‘nightmare’ doping scandal

In an email obtained by the Sydney Morning Herald that Rickard sent to teammates on Friday, he said the re-test of his sample from August 1, 2012 had found “an exceedingly small concentration” of the substance.

“The re-analysis did not detect the presence of any other prohibited substance that may have a performance-enhancing effect,” he added.

In the email, Rickard described the case as his “worst nightmare”, saying he would never knowingly or deliberately take a banned substance.

“I have always abhorred doping within the sport so you can imagine how sickened and horrified I am to find myself in this predicament,” he wrote.

Rickard also raced at the London Games in the 100m breaststroke and 200m breaststroke, finishing sixth and seventh in the respective finals.

A former president of the Australian Swimmers Association, Rickard held national and Commonwealth records during his career in which he also won silver medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the 200m breaststroke and 4x100m medley.

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