MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Three years after becoming the pariah of Australian swimming, Shayna Jack can finally look ahead with hope after coming back from a doping ban to book her place at the world championships and Commonwealth Games.
The 23-year-old finished second behind Mollie O’Callaghan in the women’s 100 metres freestyle final at national trials in Adelaide on Wednesday and burst into tears while still in the pool.
“I made a joke about not wanting any tears this week but I’m definitely going to have those tears of joy. I’m just overwhelmed with emotion,” said Jack.
“I think I proved my point … but I’ll continue to fight back and continue what I do, which is racing all the way through to Paris (2024 Olympics).”
In 2019, Jack was sent home from a training camp in Japan ahead of the world championships with Swimming Australia (SA) saying she withdrew for “personal reasons”.
However, it later emerged she had tested positive for the banned anabolic agent ligandrol, which the governing body had known about for weeks.
The revelations came as Jack’s team mate Mack Horton waged a public campaign against Chinese swimmer Sun Yang over his doping record, triggering accusations of hypocrisy.
SA defended its move to conceal the positive test as necessary for confidentiality reasons and to allow Jack a right to fair process, but a former head of the national doping agency said the federation had lied by not disclosing the adverse result.
Jack maintained she had never intentionally taken ligandrol but was banned for four years. The suspension was halved in late-2020 after she appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Sport Integrity Australia, the country’s anti-doping authority, fought to have the full ban reinstated but CAS threw out its challenge last September, allowing Jack to return to the pool.
On Thursday, Jack was splashed across national newspapers and hailed on breakfast TV for breaking back into Australia’s world class freestyle team.
“I guess I always knew that I was a strong female and I always knew that I had resilience and I had determination and really, really obviously wanted to achieve all of these goals in my swimming career,” she told the ‘Today Show’ on Channel Nine.
“But the last three years is just a testimony to that and just shows how hard I do work and how much I do want this.
“And you know, it is just going to keep going up from here.”
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)