Aussie Olympian ‘innocent but trapped’
Ex-Australian swimmer Brenton Rickard says he is "innocent but trapped" in a doping nightmare, as a retrospective drugs test threatens to strip former colleagues of their Olympic medals.
Nine newspapers revealed this weekend a re-screening of Rickard's sample he gave eight years ago at the London Games tested positive to the diuretic Furosemide, a banned masking agent.
Rickard swum in the heats of the 4x100m medley relay in the English capital, but was not part of the final squad that won bronze in the event. However, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is reportedly seeking to disqualify Rickard's results from the 2012 Olympics, which would also result in five of his comrades being stripped of their medals.
Rickard believes the diuretic may have been contained in some over-the-counter medication he took in London and was adamant he is completely opposed to cheating.
"It is incredibly frustrating to be in a position where I'm innocent but trapped in this nightmare process," Rickard told The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.
"As I have stated, I have never taken any banned substances and abhor drugs in sport."
Rickard sent an email to his 2012 teammates alerting them to the situation, saying he was "sickened and horrified" to be living his "worst nightmare".
A tiny amount of Furosemide was found in Rickard's system and his legal team has issued a staunch defence.
"The minute presence of Furosemide in his retested sample can only be explained as a contaminant of one of the over-the-counter medications he was taking at the time," Rickard's lawyer Rebekah Giles told Nine papers.
"One has to question the fairness of this process. We are dealing with a known contaminant of over-the-counter medications at an extremely low concentration some eight years after the sample was given.
"The rules on proving innocence and sanction are stacked against Brenton and his teammates and have the potential to produce an extremely unfair outcome."
The IOC is taking action against Rickard and the matter will be heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.
If Rickard is found guilty, fellow swimmer James Magnussen is among those who stand to lose their medal, along with Hayden Stoeckel, Matt Targett, Tommaso D'Orsogna and Christian Sprenger.
Magnussen said Rickard is "unlucky" and is hoping for a positive outcome.
"It's a bit of a shock to find out about. I've known Brenton for a long time and you can't help but feel sorry for the position that he's in right now," Magnussen told Fox Sports News. "It's something that you wouldn't wish on your own enemy so my thoughts are with him at the moment.
"Given that he wasn't actually in the team that swum in the final and won the medal ... it seems like a bit of a long bow to draw to say that the whole team should have their medals taken off them.
"For me, it's just a bit of a weird scenario that seems like a bit of a storm in a teacup. I feel very sorry for Brenton and that's my real emotion in it - hoping that he's OK throughout the whole process but personally I haven't really lost any sleep over it."
Originally published as Aussie Olympian 'innocent but trapped'