Fresh twist gives Shayna Jack cause for optimism over doping ban

Aussie swimmer Shayna Jack has been given a glimmer of hope when it comes to fighting her four-year ban after testing positive to a banned substance.

Jack has vowed to prove her innocence after returning a positive drug test for the illegal anabolic agent ligrandrol.

The 20-year-old's A and B samples both tested positive for the banned, causing her to pull out of the FINA World Championships just days before they were due to begin.

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Initially kept a secret, Swimming Australia came under intense scrutiny after the results were revealed during the World Championships in South Korea, gaining further notoriety in the wake of high-profile anti-doping protests against Chinese swimmer Sun Yang from Jack’s teammate Mack Horton.

She was eventually slapped with a four year ban from ASADA, which is the standard punishment for a doping case like Jack's.

However, the Aussie's chances of fighting her ban could have been boosted by a similar case involving a Japanese swimmer.

Junya Koga was also hit with a four-year ban after testing positive in March last year for ostarine and ligrandrol (the same drug found in Jack's system), which are on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited list.

Japan's Junya Koga successfully had his four-year ban downgraded. Pic: Getty

However, Koga's four-year suspension for an anti-doping rule violation has been reduced to two years after it was found that his supplements may have been contaminated.

A gold medallist in the world championships in 2009 (100 metres backstroke) and 2016 (50 metres backstroke), Koga was handed a four-year ban until March 2022 by the International Swimming Federation (FINA) before the 32-year-old filed an appeal in October last year at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), who amended FINA's original decision.

"In June 2019, the parties informed the CAS that having agreed that contaminated supplements were the most likely source... of both the ostarine and ligrandrol found in Junya Koga's samples, they had signed a settlement agreement," CAS said in a statement.

Shayna Jack vows to clear her name

Like Koga, Aussie swimmer Jack insists she unknowingly took ligandrol, with suggestions she too could have been victim of a contaminated supplement.

Speaking in Brisbane after meeting with ASADA officials, Jack vowed to clear her name, but did not provide any further details about how the banned substance was found in her system.

“It’s been a really long and emotional day, but we’ve started the process which is really great,” she told media gathered outside.

“I’m really happy with how everything is going.

“I’m not going to stop until I’ve proved my innocence and fight to get myself back in the pool.

Shayna Jack is fighting her four-year ban. Pic: Getty

“That’s my dream and I’m never going to let that go.”

Jack declined to comment on how the drug made its way into her system, nor on whether Swimming Australia had instructed her to remain silent once the positive results were returned.

Speaking beside her lawyer, Jack answered only two questions from reporters before a short statement was read by her representative.

“It’s still an ongoing investigation so I can’t clear that with anyone yet,” Jack said.

“We’re still looking into it, but we’re not going to leave any stone unturned.”

Jack throws support behind Swimming Australia

The embattled swimmer refused to be drawn on questions about her relationship with Swimming Australia, insisting the two parties were on good terms.

Swimming Australia were heavily criticised in the days after Jack’s positive test was revealed, after it was reported they had known about the doping violation before Mack Horton began his protest against Sun Yang.

“To be completely honest, Swimming Australia have been nothing but supportive of me, and we’ve been a unit through the whole process,” Jack said.

“Every decision we’ve made has been together, and we’ve been happy with every decision we’ve made.”

With agencies