South African swimmer Roland Schoeman says he will never knowingly take a banned substance. Photo by Richard Huggard/Getty Images

Cape Town - Former world record holder and Olympic gold medallist Roland Schoeman says he "will never knowingly take a banned substance" after he was suspended for doping by the International Swimming Federation (Fina).

 

The 39-year-old Schoeman, who is training for the 2020 Olympics, tested positive in May 2019 for a prohibited product from the family of "hormonal and metabolic modulators", Fina said. Schoeman has been suspended until 17 May, while the swimming competition at the Tokyo Olympics starts on 25 July.

 

But Schoeman said he would never willingly take performance enhancing drugs, and that the supplements he was using during the time of testing may he been contaminated.


"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. "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."


Schoeman was part of the South African 4x100m relay team who won gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and is a triple world champion. He also held world records in butterfly and freestyle, and was the first man to swim the 50 butterfly event in under 23 seconds.

"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."

My full public statement pic.twitter.com/5R8Ej6hkY5


Schoeman says he still wants to compete at the Olympics in Japan later this year.


"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."