In 2019, Shayna Jack was at the centre of a doping scandal. It almost cost her life.

Shayna Jack. It’s a name we are all familiar with, but for all the wrong reasons. 

Not because she is an incredible swimmer and all-round wonderful human being, but because her name was plastered across tabloids after testing positive to a banned substance in 2019.

In our episode of Here If You Need with Shayna this week, we delved into the doping scandal that she openly admits almost cost her life. 

Initially banned from the competition for four years, Shayna appealed the punishment to the Court of Arbitration for Sport which reduced her suspension to two years, accepting that Jack did not knowingly ingest the substance.

In most legal systems, you are innocent until proven guilty. In Shayna’s case, she was guilty until proven innocent – and whilst she wasn’t exactly ‘proven innocent’, it was proved she never knowingly took the substance. That, in my opinion, is as good as innocent.

Watch: Shayna Jack on Australian Story. Post continues after video.

To this day, she has no idea how it came to be in her system. Not for lack of trying though – she spent thousands of dollars testing absolutely everything she was exposed to leading up to her positive test – even the nail polish from the nail salon where she had her nails done in the lead up to her positive result. 


It remains a mystery, but what is certain is, she was never given a presumption of innocence, and if I’m honest she was treated like garbage (and I’m putting that nicely) from day one of her fight to clear her name.

I remember when Shayna’s case was unfolding in 2019 and at the same time Australian rules star Willie Rioli had also tested a positive drug test. The difference in treatment by the media and public was astounding. 

Rioli was permitted to train with his West Coast team members while under a provisional suspension, whilst Shayna was labelled a drug cheat, completely ostracised and isolated from a world she really had only ever known.

"You are no longer an athlete in any sense," says Jack.

"You're no longer able to play sport in any sense. You cannot go down to the local netball club and join the netball team. I was cut off from everything I knew. I was no longer allowed to coach, so I could no longer have that connection or that feeling like I was inspiring the young boys and girls of the next generation, which is a massive part of why I do what I do.

"I couldn't communicate with people I'd known since I was 13. People were having their jobs put on the line, they were having to ask themselves whether they pick me or their job? Just being associated with my name was a take down for people."

If you want to hear more about Shayna Jack's story, listen to this episode of Here If You Need.

Swimming Australia chief executive Leigh Russel has repeatedly asked why more humanity isn’t shown to athletes awaiting the outcome of ASADA’s investigation of their alleged breach. It’s a good question, one that four years later we still haven’t seen an improvement to.


I realise athletes elect to live a life where they are professionals and with that comes responsibility and consequences. They know they will be routinely tested and should ultimately be aware of everything that goes into their body. I still feel however, there should be more done to support athletes during such a traumatic time, they are human after all.

Fortunately, whilst ASADA doesn’t appear to be making any improvement in the treatment of athletes, Shayna at least hopes her journey is partly to thank for the kinder treatment Peter Bol received from the media and public following a positive drug test he has since been cleared of.

"I am going to give myself that gratitude and that pride of feeling like I did make a change," says Jack.

"I am hoping that the things that I went through were able to educate the public and educate the media on the anti-doping system and how there the process isn't perfect.

"The way they handled my situation I think was pretty poor. It wasn't human first. It was very much judgment first. The process of anti-doping is guilty until proven innocent and you don't get the chance to prove your innocence until potentially two years down the track.

"I was really proud to see the response that people were giving Peter and proud to see that no matter what was going on, and no matter what the situation was, whether it was intentional or unintentional, he was given the chance to fight before people actually made a decision on that person."


Shayna’s name is sadly still often associated with "doping scandal." 

Fortunately, she is back in the pool fighting to bury it deep in the past, and she is more determined than ever. This is a woman who recently broke finger after getting it caught in another swimmer’s bathing while they turned, and four weeks later returned to the pool.

Shayna is a weapon, she is someone all young aspiring athletes should look up to. She’s overcome more adversity than most athletes will ever experience and still has a positive outlook on life and a beaming smile to go with it. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.

Feature Image: Getty.

Love to snack? Complete this survey to go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher!