With the Court of Arbitration (November 2019) reducing Shayna Jack’s ban from four to two years, commencing on the date of her provisional suspension (July 12, 2019) after testing positive for the banned performance enhancing drug (PED) Ligandrol (26 June 2019), Sports Integrity Australia and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have indicated they will appeal the reduced ban on the basis of the “the need for clarity in the application of key anti-doping legal principles”.
For the hardliners, there is no excuse or sympathy for a positive drug test. For example, Dick Pound, former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) states “Everybody who’s caught doping says I have no idea, I never knowingly took anything, I don’t know how it got in my system. There’s always an excuse. The stuff was in her system and therefore you still have a case of doping.
So was the Court of Arbitration correct with its November 2020 decision that, “on the balance of probabilities”, Shayna Jack did not intentionally ingest Ligandrol?
To some degree, the ban on Jack was justified, as confirmed by the remaining two year penalty.
With WADA’s policy of strict liability, which makes an athlete responsible for any banned substance found in doping control samples regardless of his or her intention, there is no doubt that some punishment was justified.
While Jack suggested she only consumed approved supplements, this claim is complicated by Jack advertising an Extremo Sports Nutrition product on Instagram during December 2018, a product claiming to also repair muscle damage and aid recovery, and a product which Swimming Australia Sports Supplement policy did not include on its two websites which audited the supplement brands that were recommended for use.
With a 2018 blog post by ASADA also warning athletes about LGD-4033 (Ligandrol), ASADA’s website states “No supplement is safe to use and athletes should not risk their careers by taking a supplement”, while the Swimming Australia website also indicated that around Australian one athlete tests positive from a supplement every month.
As the Cologne Anti-Doping Laboratory found out previously, LGD4033 had been detected multiple times when testing confiscated black market products from 2010 to 2013.
The fact that Jack was advertising a product not approved by ASADA or Swimming Australia suggests a major lack of awareness, at best.
There is no doubt that all measures should have been taken by Jack to avoid the accidental ingestion of a banned substance such as Ligandrol, a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) that is indeed a potent PED used by athletes to promote muscle growth.
While it has been found from testing healthy male athletes that considerable muscle could be added from a maximum of 1mg of the drug per day for a period of three weeks, control groups taking just 0.1mg and 0.3mg of the drug per day also displayed sharp increases in muscle mass, an amount that would be enough to cause a positive drug test.
While nobody can know for certain, it is indeed possible that athletes were deliberately using Ligandrol in 2019 as LGD-4033 was only specifically listed on the 2019 edition of WADA’s Prohibited List with the actual reference to “Ligandrol” only added in 2020.
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