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How Shayna Jack convinced the person who mattered most she wasn’t a cheat

It was a strategy with an inherent amount of risk and the argument centred on her clean history of doping and the content of her character, which was put to the test under cross-examination from the lawyer for Sport Integrity Australia (SIA), Houda Younan.

In the end, Jack was able to satisfy Sullivan that she was being honest and upfront, while SIA would concede there was “no direct evidence that [Jack] ‘intentionally’ ingested Ligandrol to enhance performance” and there was no evidence of any long-term use of the prohibited SARM, which is reputed to help build muscle without the side-effects of anabolic agents.

“She appeared to be completely straightforward, genuine and honest in the answers she gave. Her demeanour was excellent and her dismay and upset at the situation she found herself was evident. She became emotional at times in giving her evidence but not inappropriately or theatrically so,” Sullivan wrote in his finding.

“The Sole Arbitrator could not detect any signs of acting or disingenuousness. On the contrary, as stated, the Applicant presented as an honest, decent, reliable and very plausible witness.”

Sullivan didn’t arrive at the conclusion easily. As he noted, almost every guilty athlete says they are clean and there was no smoking gun for Jack to produce as part of her scientific defence.

On that front, he would “exercise great caution in accepting an applicant’s protestations of innocence” but said he it would be “over-cynical” to discount Jack’s forceful testimony on the absence of substantial scientific evidence.

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“While that is true, it would be an over-cynical and wrong approach to the evidence of [Jack] to start with the presumption that what they say is not to be believed or can only be believed if corroborated by other objective evidence,” Sullivan wrote.

Jack won’t ever know how the ligandrol entered her system and intriguingly, Sullivan said there was still a lack of hard-hitting evidence that suggested the SARM had any real performance-enhancing properties in the first place.

Her legal team suggested it may have been a trace sample from a public gym during a team camp in Cairns, or her kitchen blender that is also used by her boyfriend and brother. Both of those possibilities should be alarming for professional athletes and not knowing should only heighten their awareness when training and preparing food and drink.

Australian swimming stars Cate and Bronte Campbell and Jack’s coach Dean Boxall were among those to present character witnesses to CAS, all of which appeared to play a part in a critical day where her career was hanging on the decision of one man.

The various parties have until the first week in December to appeal the CAS ruling. Jack will be hoping her ordeal is over once and for all.

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