Olympic swimmer Roland Schoeman has denied knowingly taking a banned substance as he comes to grip with a one-year ban from competition.
Schoeman tested positive for a banned substance from the family of “hormonal and metabolic modulators” according to swimming governing body FINA. He has been hit with a one-year ban but says that he did not intentionally or knowingly use a performance-enhancing substance.
Devastated Schoeman denies doping
The swimmer who was part of the 4 x 100m relay team that won gold for South Africa at the Athens Olympics in 2004 has been banned from competition until 17 May meaning he retains an outside shot at going to another games in Tokyo.
“In May last year I was taking a variety of supplements, all carefully selected, to avoid any possibility of inadvertently dosing on something not allowed,” Schoeman said in a statement issued on his Twitter account. “I was not at all concerned about providing a urine sample as I had been tested dozens of times previously, both in and out of competition, and all such tests had been negative for banned substances.
“I had tested negative for any such contamination in two tests before May 2019 and for two tests immediately after the one found to contain a trace of the substance. Regretfully, by the time FINA notified me of the positive test, there was none of that month’s supplement supply left.
“I would never knowingly take a banned substance and much less a substance known to carry cancer, heart attack and stroke risks. At my own expense, I paid for testing of new batches of the supplements I’d been taking, to track down the source of the problem. This proved to be unsuccessful.
“It’s important to note that FINA would normally apply an automatic two- or four-year ban for doping based on the evidence. I sat in Lausanne with FINA officials for over seven hours, answering any and all questions. It’s testament to FINA’s understanding that this was possibly inadvertent cross-contamination, that I received only a one-year ban.”
Cross-contamination a possibility
The substance found in Schoeman’s urine sample is commonly called Cardarine. At one stage it had been considered a candidate for use in metabolic and cardiovascular disease drugs, but trials were scrapped after it was shown to promote the cancerous growths on several organs. The substance has since gained popularity as a body-building supplement while also being banned worldwide for athletes.
Schoeman believes his supplements may have been contaminated by trace amounts of Cardarine and is now taking extreme care as well as monitoring and managing his supplementation.
“I have never, in my decades of competition, taken performance enhancing substances and never would. The minimal concentration of Cardarine in my urine – just 1.3 nanograms – is confirmed by lab technicians and experts to indicate that this could have been caused by product contamination,” the swimmer said.
“The detection time for just one dose of Cardarine is up to forty days. So, had I been intentionally taking it, all five tests would have proved positive.
“To prevent any possible repeat of the situation I am now recording batch numbers and keeping a quantity of pills and powders aside, from whatever batch I take, so they can be independently tested should any sample abnormalities ever again be detected.”
The 39-year-old former world record holder still hopes to compete at the Tokyo Olympics.
“I have always aimed at retiring from competitive swimming one day, with an unblemished record. This incident has been personally devastating and very stressful because I can say with hand on heart, I have never knowingly taken any banned substance.”
“Those who know me, know of my long-term commitment to clean sport.
“It remains my ambition to compete in the Olympics this year, if possible. My commitment to maintaining the highest standards of ethics and fairness in all sport, remains undimmed.”