Stunning rule change that could hand Shayna Jack an Olympics lifeline

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Shayna Jack, pictured here at a meeting with ASADA in Brisbane in 2019.
Shayna Jack at a meeting with ASADA in Brisbane in 2019. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

The World Anti-Doping Agency is reportedly looking at a proposal to end the practice of suspending athletes who inadvertently test positive to minuscule levels of banned substances.

In a move that could hand Shayna Jack a lifeline for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, the Daily Telegraph reports WADA has appointed a special working group to look into the proposal.

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Jack’s four-year was halved to two years on Tuesday after the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled the Australian swimmer had ingested banned drug Ligandrol without knowledge.

The reduced ban was a huge win for Jack, however it means she will still miss out on a spot at Tokyo 2021 because she’ll still be banned during the Australian team trials.

But according to the Daily Telegraph’s Julien Linden, she may be a shock inclusion.

Linden says famed US anti-doping chief Travis Tygart is leading the push for a rule change that would stop athletes who accidentally test positive being banned.

Tygart is said to be keen for drug catchers to focus more on calculated cheats, rather than athletes with “tiny traces of contaminated substances that have no performance-enhancing benefits.”

“I haven’t seen the full decision on Shayna Jack’s case so I can’t comment on that but to treat any case in the weeds that’s at low, low levels isn’t the same as Russian state sponsored intentional (doping),” he told the Telegraph.

“But let’s be clear, we’re not talking about going light on ­intentional cheaters.

“This is about making sure we don’t railroad innocent athletes because any system that is willing to do that more frequently than catching intentional cheats is a system that can’t sustain itself.”

If the proposed rule change is brought in in time, Jack could be given a Tokyo Olympics lifeline.

Her suspension ends 11 days before the Opening Ceremony in Tokyo, but one month after the start of the Australian trials.

Even if her ban isn’t completely lifted, she’d only need a 31-day reduction to compete at the trials.

Shayna Jack, pictured here at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
Shayna Jack, Bronte Campbell, Emma Mckeon and Cate Campbell at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Shayna Jack vows to return to swimming

The Queenslander was initially banned for four years when Ligandrol was found in her sample from an out-of-competition test before last year’s world championships.

Jack appealed the suspension to CAS, which reduced her ban to two years and found the Queenslander did not knowingly take the banned substance.

The 22-year-old is vowing to return to swimming, relieved the CAS ruling cleared her of deliberate doping.

“The CAS have confirmed in emphatic terms that I did not intentionally, knowingly or recklessly use Ligandrol in any manner,” Jack posted on Instagram.

“I have proven that I have not ever cheated, nor used prohibited substances intentionally or knowingly.”

Jack said she would accept the two-year ban “with a positive attitude and with gratitude that my career as a swimmer will resume next year”.

“I have never doubted myself for a minute throughout this ordeal and I have never allowed my integrity to be compromised,” she wrote.

“I walk a little taller ... with the fact that this ordeal is finally over.

“I am returning to swimming - the sport that I have loved all my life and the sport that I will cherish just that little bit more ongoing.”

Swimming Australia welcomed the CAS verdict while calling for empathy for Jack.

with AAP

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