Fight to clear name leaves crippling toll on Shayna Jack
Shayna Jack has revealed for the first time the crippling financial cost of her ongoing battle to clear her name and return to swimming as worried family and close friends try to keep her spirits afloat in the face of another pending court case.
Privately, Jack's inner circle have become increasingly concerned about the emotional toll the drawn out anti-doping case is having on her wellbeing with a new and deeply personal posting on social media reinforcing their alarm.
The normally upbeat Queenslander not only divulged that she has forked out more than $130,000 in trying to prove her innocence but also gave a heartbreaking insight into the emotional torment she's been put through.
"I know many of you have viewed or heard from me in a positive light and I have always tried to see the good in tough situations or challenges. But enough is enough," she wrote.
"I have been fighting tirelessly for myself every hour of each day for over 18 months now and I am mentally exhausted. Getting a deduction from 4 years to 2 years was a weight off my shoulders, finally I could focus on my swimming again and get back to what I love more than anything. Then comes the bombshell."
Initially suspended until 2023 after tiny traces of the banned anabolic agent ligandrol were discovered in her urine sample before the 2019 world championships, Jack succeeded in getting her ban halved to two years after fronting the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
In a judgment that she proclaimed on her Instagram account as proof she was I•N•N•O•C•E•N•T, the sole arbitrator found that Jack "did not intentionally ingest ligandrol" so was entitled to a reduced penalty even though she failed to prove where the traces came from.
News Corp exclusively revealed the extraordinary lengths and expense Jack went to in a futile attempt to locate the source of contamination - including sending strands of her hair as well as the contents of her nail polish and toothpaste to be tested by overseas laboratories.
But her relief at getting the ban halved was short lived when doping officials appealed CAS's decision to reduce her penalty and critics in Australia compared her claims of innocence to Donald Trump insisting he won the US Presidential election.
"Some of you may know but many of you won't realise that SIA (Sport Integrity Australia) and WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) appealed the decision handed down by an arbitrator who has been in practice for more than 40 years, back in November last year," Jack wrote.
"I am hurting. I am struggling. And more than that, I am scared that as much as I fight and as much as I throw money into this fight, I will always lose up against these authorities.
"I have absorbed the burden of losing over 130k since this drug accusation began. And now they want more? How much more can these people continue to take from me?"
As her Dolphins' teammates continue preparing for this year's postponed Tokyo Olympics - due to start on July 23 - Jack still has no idea when she can finally return to the pool.
Her current two year suspension ends 11 days before the Opening Ceremony in Japan, too late for her to compete at the Australian trials, but with the appeal against her still in progress - the 22-year-old freestyle sprinter has been left dejected and despairing about her future.
"I love swimming and competing for my country, but I honestly don't know if this is all worth it anymore," she wrote.
"That is the saddest part about all this. Knowing I am innocent of ever taking a prohibited substance intentionally and that this process could potentially be the reason I no longer want to be Shayna Jack the swimmer.
"If you were in a workplace that didn't want you, didn't treat you the way you deserve, and questioned who you are, would you stay?
"I know my worth, and no one in this world deserves to be treated the way I have been treated. I deserve better than this and I'm not going to sit around pretending that I'm okay because I'm not and I hope you all think that is okay too."
Originally published as Fight to clear name leaves crippling toll on Jack