Swimming Australia has defended waiting two weeks to disclose rising star Shayna Jack testing positive for a banned substance.
On Saturday, the sporting body revealed the 20-year-old swimmer had failed a routine out-of-competition drug test at a training camp in Japan in late June. She was sent home to Australia, suspended from the team and banned from competing at the 2019 world championships in South Korea while the Asada investigation was under way.
The results were provided to Jack a fortnight ago. In an Instagram post, the swimmer said she did not take the substance knowingly.
Swimming Australia CEO Leigh Russell told reporters on Sunday the delay in revealing the positive test to the public was a matter of internal policy.
“We must wait until Asada or the particular athlete speaks on any matter,” she said. “We have some very strict confidentiality agreements in place.”
Russell revealed her distress when Mack Horton staged his world titles anti-doping protest last weekend against controversial Chinese star Sun Yang, knowing that Jack had tested positive.
But one of the few others who knew about Jack’s plight at the time, the Australian team head coach Jacco Verhaeren, said he didn’t feel awkward and would have joined Horton’s podium protest if he could.
Asked if she had her “head in her hands” when Horton failed to acknowledge Sun, Russell said: “Yes, it was such a difficult one.
“I absolutely support Mack. He’s entitled to say and do on an issue that he is passionate about and we are too, this has not changed our thinking on a zero-tolerance approach or our policy.
“But I certainly was watching Mack (protest), distressed about what would befall both Shayna and Mack in the coming days and week (once positive test broke).”
Verhaeren did not believe Jack’s positive test had tarnished Horton’s protest message and claimed the Olympic champion would still have done it if he knew about Jack’s test.
“The question is going to be asked ‘should he have done that?’,” Verhaeren said in Gwangju.
“I think yes because that is a totally different subject as well. This is about someone standing up for clean sport and we still do that.
“If the meet started tomorrow with this knowledge he would stand there again and if I could I would stand next to him.”
Horton refused to take the podium with Sun after the Chinese swimmer won the gold in the 400m freestyle. Horton and other swimmers have been angry that Sun was allowed to contest the titles ahead of a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing in September.
Sun is accused of allegedly smashing vials of blood samples with a hammer during a routine out-of-competition drug test. The 27-year-old previously served a three-month ban in 2014 for doping after testing positive for a banned stimulant.
Australian team swimmers competing in South Korea weren’t told of Jack’s positive drug test until the news broke on Saturday, a month later. Russell said she understood Jack had been planning to reveal the news later this week, after the world titles ended, when it would not be a distraction for the Dolphins.
The substance Jack tested positive to has not been revealed and that may not be made public for months, unless the swimmer chooses to announce it, as the matter is bound by confidentiality while it is investigated.
“We’re not expecting a very quick resolution to this process,” Russell said.
Jack says she would never knowingly take a banned substance and has no idea how she came to test positive.
Russell said Jack was at home in Brisbane with plenty of family support and was also being supported by Swimming Australia.