'Dark thoughts': Shayna Jack reveals devastating toll of doping saga

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Pictured here, Aussie swimmer Shayna Jack.
Shayna Jack has opened up about her doping ban hell in a heartbreaking new interview. Pic: Getty/Instagram

Aussie swimmer Shayna Jack has opened up in painful detail about the doping scandal that left her feeling "worthless" and contemplating taking her own life.

In September, Jack was cleared to return to the pool after an appeal seeking to increase her doping ban was dismissed.

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Jack was initially banned for four years after testing positive to Ligandrol in June of 2019, almost three weeks before the swimming world championships in South Korea.

The Queenslander appealed her ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which reduced the suspension to two years after finding that Jack did not knowingly ingest the substance.

But Sport Integrity Australia (SIA) appealed that reduction, citing a need for clarity regarding anti-doping legal principles.

However, CAS rejected SIA's appeal in September, paving the way for Jack's return to the sport after serving a two-year ban. 

Aussie swimmer Shayna Jack is seen left among a group of reporters and in the pool on the right.
Shayna Jack was allowed to resume her swimming career after a CAS ruling in September. Image: Getty/Instagram

In a new interview with The Courier Mail's QWeekend magazine, the swimmer has poured her heart out about the devastating toll the scandal has taken on her.

The 22-year-old said she felt like she being let down by the sport she loved and ostracised for something she's consistently pleaded innocent to.

Jack said she felt like she was "shunned" and "worthless" after having to train alone during her ban, leaving the pool before other swimmers showed up.

The swimmer admitted that she tried to avoid all the negative press about her but had to contend with messages on social media labelling her a drug cheat and calling for her to take her own life.

In a heartbreaking admission, the 22-year-old said she did contemplate taking her own life, before seeking professional help.

“I don’t want to hide anything and I guess I want people to understand that I did the right thing by getting help when I did, in case someone reads this and is thinking that maybe they might not want to be around anymore, because, aah, I didn’t,” she told News Corp.

“So I no longer wanted to be around, because I didn’t see a purpose in my life anymore. I’d spent my whole life thinking swimming was the best sport in the world, the most amazing sport, that it would do everything to support me, but I was very wrong.

“In no circumstances did I feel my sport had protected me in any way or helped me, and it got to the point where I just did not want to be here.

“And then I looked at myself and I thought about my parents and everything they’d done to support me, and I looked at (her partner) Joel and my friends, and I thought ‘No, I cannot do that.’

“And I also thought this is not who I am. I am not somebody who gives up, so I need to get help. I went to my doctor and I said, ‘I’m not sleeping, I’m not eating, I’m having very dark thoughts.’’’

Shayna Jack learns 'it’s OK not to be OK'

Jack says she has been seeing a psychiatrist and it's helped her to understand that "it’s OK not to be OK".

“It means something has broken you. That’s all... you just need to try very, very hard to fix it.”

Jack admitted in September that the decision by CAS to lift her ban left her "overwhelmed with joy" and relieved that her her "nightmare" was over.

"After a 2 year and 3 month battle, I have finally received my final decision that my appeal case has been dismissed by the Court of Arbitration," Jack posted on Instagram.

"I am now free to do what I love with no restrictions and am so overwhelmed with joy.

"I am now going to take some time to myself to cherish this moment and reflect on what I have endured. The nightmare is finally over.

"Thank you to everyone who has stood by me, supported me and help me overcome this challenge.

"I will speak more in the future, now is not the time ... but watch this space, it's only the beginning."

CAS on November 24 last year published its full decision, noting Jack admitted she didn't know how the substance was in her system but suggested three possible sources for her positive test.

Jack suggested supplements she took was could have been contaminated at manufacturing.

Another possibility was the supplements were contaminated by being prepared or mixed in a blender that may have been contaminated or contained Ligandrol.

A third possibility was Jack may have come into contact with the Ligandrol or ingested it as a result of using a pool and/or gym open to the public in Townsville or Cairns while training before the 2019 world championships.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

with AAP

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