She pleaded her innocence with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority but was given the maximum four-year ban, which would have effectively ended her swimming career. After an appeal to CAS in September, the court regarded Jack as truthful and reliable and reduced her ban to two years, meaning she can be back training with her St Peters Western squad under star coach Dean Boxall in July next year.
Her legal team was unable to produce definitive evidence that would have exonerated her and there is still no firm idea as to how the substance got into her system. But the samples she recorded were minuscule and the sole arbitrator in the case found her testimony to be compelling and believable.
In its ruling, CAS said: “The sole arbitrator in charge of this matter found, on the balance of probabilities, that Shayna Jack did not intentionally ingest Ligandrol and considered she had discharged her onus of proving that the anti-doping rule violation was not intentional. As a consequence, the sole arbitrator imposed a reduced period of ineligibility of two years, commencing on the date of her provisional suspension (July 12).”
In a statement posted to her social media channels, Jack said CAS had “confirmed in emphatic terms that I did not intentionally, knowingly or recklessly use Ligandrol in any manner. There was no evidence produced by my accusers as to how this substance entered my system.
“I accept this decision with a positive attitude and with gratitude that my career as a swimmer will resume next year. I never doubted myself for a minute throughout this ordeal and I have never allowed my integrity to be compromised.”
It’s too late for Jack to make the rescheduled Tokyo 2021 Games but it will still come as welcome news for the Queenslander, who was labelled a “disgrace” by sections of the media and endured photographers camping outside her house, taking pictures of her wheeling out bins.
In a statement on Monday night, Sport Integrity Australia (the new peak anti-doping body) said it ‘acknowledges the decision’ of CAS and that it was bound by the World Anti-Doping Code in handing down its initial sanction.
SIA has 21 days to lodge any appeal to the CAS finding with SIA chief executive David Sharpe saying that the agency would ‘consider the decision in greater detail before making any further comment’
Jack had been a star on the rise in Australian swimming. The talented freestyle sprinter was following in the footsteps of her idols Cate and Bronte Campbell and part of a record-breaking 4 x 100m relay team.
But the test result left her devastated as she suddenly went from a swimmer that went largely under the radar to front-page news.
She told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age last December that online trolls had told her to end her life and the ordeal had left her emotionally and mentally broken.
“The only reason I knew it [the positive test result] was out was that someone commented on a photo that I was a drug cheat and I should kill myself. For me to see something like that, it destroyed me,” Jack said.
“I remember posting [a statement] on Instagram, then just crying and crying until I had no tears left. Nobody really understood how much it broke me. I’m still broken.”
Jack considered walking away from the sport. She would have likely done so if CAS had upheld the initial ruling from the anti-doping body. Now she will get a second chance at a sport she has devoted her life to and potentially fulfil her Olympic dreams in Paris in 2024.