Jack withdrew from Australia’s squad for the world swimming championships in 2019 after testing positive to Ligandrol, a controversial drug that can be used to build muscle mass and strength.
Under normal anti-doping protocols, confirmation of the presence of a banned substance is taken very seriously, and in March 2020 Sport Integrity Australia provisionally suspended the Commonwealth Games gold medallist for four years.
However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport subsequently reduced that suspension to two years. It could not conclude the breach was intentional – Jack insists she still does not know how it entered her system – and experts gave evidence that the amount of Ligandrol was “pharmacologically irrelevant”.
While Jack had hoped to return to competition, SIA and the World Anti-Doping Association have since launched an appeal. This will require Jack to pay further court fees upfront, with the prospect of the four-year ban being reinstated. The appeal will be heard by three arbitrators, whereas the initial case was only heard by one.
Jack last week made an emotional plea for public support over the weeks and months to come.
“It breaks my heart every day I can’t be in the pool with my squad mates,” Jack said in a video.
“It breaks my heart every day that I’m still up against these people in which I feel are constantly kicking me down.”
Jack and her family spent more than $130,000 on the first case, and have now launched a GoFundMe campaign that has raised more than $35,000 in three days – including from fellow swimmers.
Jack’s lawyer, special counsel Tim Fuller, will effectively argue her case pro bono and said she had “suffered enough” over the past 19 months. While he understood SIA and WADA had a right to appeal, he said Jack had done everything expected of her during a period of intense professional and personal turmoil.
“We can only just continue to put our best foot forward and fight like hell,” said Fuller, who is in the corporate advisory team at Gadens in Brisbane.
Fuller suggested there would be public outrage if Jack, a young Brisbane swimmer who accepted punishment for an unintentional breach, found herself being banned for longer than the Russians found to have deliberately flouted the rules for an extended period of time.
WADA had sought to ban Russia for four-years for doping, however in December a three-member CAS panel reduced that to two-years – without disputing WADA’s claim that Russia had run one of the most sophisticated doping schemes in history.
Fuller said that if the appeal against Jack’s sentence was upheld, and her sentence increased, it would be a travesty of justice.
“If that was to happen, every single person that has any sort of involvement in anti-doping law in sport, is going to be questioning how a sentence like that can be imposed on someone like Shayna Jack compared to a country like Russia that has just had its four year mandatory ban reduced to two,” Fuller said.
Swimmer Shayna makes plea to 'keep fighting for what's right'
Just as he could not predict the likelihood of Jack’s sentence being increased, Fuller said he also did not know if there was the possibility of her sentence being reduced by some months due to the circumstances, given the nature of strict liability in doping laws. He reiterated, however, that “enough is enough”.
“The overriding fact is that there is no evidence of Shayna intentionally doping and we say they should just allow her back into the pool,” Fuller said.
SIA CEO David Sharpe recently said the organisation was trying to ensure “a level playing field for athletes” and sought “clarity and consistency in the application of the World Anti-Doping Code”.