Veteran swimmer Roland Schoeman has denied knowingly taking a banned substance, insisting supplements he was using last year were contaminated, after the three-time Olympic medalist was slapped with a one-year doping ban.
“I have always aimed at retiring from competitive swimming one day with an unblemished record,” Schoeman said in a statement on Saturday.
“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.”
According to the freestyle ace, a supply of supplements he had received had been contaminated with Cardarine.
By the time he was made aware of the positive test, however, Schoeman said he had completed the supply and there was no sample that could be used to test its contents.
“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,” he said.
Schoeman had sat through a seven-hour hearing with representatives of global swimming body Fina, which had apparently opted for a reduced ban rather than a potential two-year suspension due to possible cross contamination of the supplement he was taking.
Though he would be eligible to compete again more than two months before the Tokyo Olympics were set to begin in July, he was unlikely to be considered for a spot in the South African team as he would not be allowed to turn out at the national trials in Durban in April, which was a prerequisite for selection to the SA squad.
The four-time Olympian nonetheless hoped that Swimming SA would consider him for selection, provided he achieved the rest of the qualifying criteria ahead of the Tokyo Games.
“It remains my ambition to compete in the Olympics this year, if possible,” Schoeman said.
“My commitment to maintaining the highest standards of ethics and fairness in all sports remains undimmed.