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Shayna Jack always dreamed of being on the Aussie swim team. This month she was sent home for doping.

As a child growing up in Brisbane’s southern suburbs, Shayna Jack dreamed of one day representing her country in the pool like her idol Libby Trickett.

Jack was just a teenager when that dream came true, competing in the World Junior Swimming Championship in 2015.

At just 20 years old, Jack has already been wearing green and gold on the world stage for years.

She holds the Australian record for the fastest 100 metres freestyle by an 18-year-old, beating training buddy Bronte Campbell’s record in 2017. That same year she won a silver medal for the 4x100m freestyle relay at the 2017 World Championships with teammates Campbell, Brittany Elmslie and Emma McKeon – a feat she counts as a career highlight.

Jack helped the Australian team to two gold medals at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and then helped secure gold in a record-breaking freestyle relay time at the Pan Pacific Championships.

Out of the pool, Jack was also gaining a profile on social media, with 15,000 followers on Instagram before her doping scandal broke last weekend. She has used her profile to secure partnerships with brands such as Koala mattresses, protein powders and Spotify.

A big horse and animal lover, Jack also regularly posted about her volunteering at the RSPCA and with her dogs.

 

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A post shared by Shayna Jack (@shayna_jack) on

In her spare time, Jack was passionate about teaching parents and children about the importance of learning to swim.

She studied a business degree in sports management and had previously said she’d like to work within Swimming Australia after her career came to an end, but now Jack is fighting to keep her young career alive.

Jack was all set to represent Australia again at this year’s World Aquatics Championships, but on July 12, Jack pulled out for “personal reasons”.

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Over the weekend it was revealed that Jack’s absence was in fact due to a failed drug test.

In a lengthy post shared to her Instagram, Jack said a banned substance called Ligandrol, developed to treat muscle degenerative conditions like osteoporosis but also known to increase muscle mass and aid quick recovery, was found in her system.

In December, Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) issued a warning to athletes about the rise of the substance, which was both banned in sport and had not yet completed its clinical trials.

 

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words, in this case a picture can not describe the amount of pain and vulnerability I am feeling right now. It is with great sadness and heartache that I had to leave due to allegations of having a prohibited substance in my system. I did NOT take this substance knowingly. Swimming has been my passion since I was 10 years old and I would never intentionally take a banned substance that would disrespect my sport and jeopardise my career. Now there is an ongoing investigation and my team and I are doing everything we can to find out when and how this substance has come into contact with my body. I would appreciate if you respect my privacy as this is very hard for me to cope with

A post shared by Shayna Jack (@shayna_jack) on

Jack has denied knowingly taking the substance.

“I respect my teammates and my sport too much to take away their moment, so I returned home and said nothing. Upon returning home, I felt more heartache than I have ever felt in my 20 years of living,” she wrote.

“Seeing my parents, brothers, boyfriend and grandma made me break down into a million pieces as this was so hard for me to cope with.

“I didn’t intentionally take this substance; I didn’t even know it was in my system. It just didn’t make any sense, and still doesn’t to this day.”

Before the doping scandal, Jack was working towards her ultimate goal: The 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games.

Last year, Jack told the Gold Coast Bulletin making the Olympic team was “everything” to her.

“I obviously would be devastated if I didn’t make it but at the moment, all that’s in my head is that I will make it – and that’s the type of person that I am, it’s not if or but, it’s when.”

 

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Jack was placed on immediate provisional suspension when her test results were discovered.

She said she and her team, including her lawyer, management and doctor were working to prove her innocence after both her A and B tests came back positive.

“I trained hard to be over there racing and to support the team, but I understood the rules of ASADA, and I have followed all their processes,” she said.

“Deep down, I feel I shouldn’t have to defend my reputation as I know that I didn’t do this. I have never missed a random drug test, and I always have my whereabouts up to date.

“In Australia, in a sport like swimming, I feel there is no possible way for an athlete to intentionally take a banned substance and not get caught… Why would I put myself through this anguish and risk jeopardising my career and my character? I did not and would not cheat and will continue to fight to clear my name.”

Despite her denials, Swimming Australia have placed the blame solely on Jack.

“I do think that people can make mistakes, and seemingly and inadvertently be taking things,” CEO Leigh Russell told media on Monday. “It does take a high level of care and vigilance, [elite athletes] are not living like normal human beings.

“It stands to reason that from time to time you are going to get people who have potentially not realised that something is on the list.

“But it doesn’t matter, it is their fault.”

On Monday, FINA boss Cornel Marculescu revealed Jack is not the only athlete facing a doping investigation.

He said Jack was “not the only one, there are another two. But we need to finish the case”. He said the other two athletes were not Australian, news.com.au reported.

If unable to prove her innocence, Jack could face a lengthy ban from the sport which would make her chances of appearing in Tokyo very, very slim.

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