Australian Olympian Brenton Rickard Returns Positive Doping Test from London 2012

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TESTING TIMES: Breaststroker Brenton Rickard in full cry. Photo Courtesy News Limited.

The Australian Olympic Committee and Swimming Australia has been rocked by a positive drug test to champion breaststroker Brenton Rickard, back-dated to the 2012 London Olympics.

The test threatens to strip six Australian swimmers of their medals for the first time in history and comes at the same Games that saw the Australian men’s 4x100m freestyle relay team embroiled in the infamous “Stilnox affair.”

The Age newspaper in Melbourne has broken the extraordinary revelations that “Dual Olympian Brenton Rickard, part of the men’s 4 x 100 metre medley team that won bronze at the Games, has tested positive to banned diuretic Furosemide in a re-screening of the sample he gave eight years ago.”

Rickard, who is a former president of the Australian Swimmers Association and former team leader, is shattered and has emailed his team mates to break the news.

The Beijing Olympic silver medallist in the 200m breaststroke is regarded as one of the most respected members of the Australian Swim Team – a leader with an impeccable record of behaviour and sportsmanship, and an anti-drugs campaigner.

A true Olympian who abides by all the ideals of Olympism -with a standing in the highest echelon of what elite sportsmen stand for.

The re-testing revealed traces of Furosemide, a masking agent, in what his lawyers have told The Age is an “exceedingly small concentration.”

Australia has never lost an Olympic medal through a drugs case.

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Brenton Rickard. Photo Courtesy: Peter H.Bick

The story said that Rickard, who says he is living his “worst nightmare”, emailed his teammates today, revealing that the International Olympic Committee is seeking to disqualify his results from the London Games.

The entire Australian 2012 Olympics 4 x 100 metre men’s medley team – James Magnussen, Christian Sprenger, Hayden Stoeckel, Matt Targett, Tommaso D’Orsogna and Rickard – would then be stripped of their medals, and the bronze would go to fourth place Great Britain.

A double jeopardy for Magnussen, Targett and D’Orsogna who were all part of the Stilnox bond session in Manchester at the team’s pre-Olympic camp

Rickard emailed his team mates saying:

“This is one of the most difficult emails I have ever had to write.

As you know the 2012 London Olympic Games was one of the highlights of my swimming career and our medal in the 4 x 100m Medley is a memory that I will treasure forever.

I am devastated to inform you that a sample that I provided on 1 August 2012 after the 200m Breaststroke event has been re-tested 8 years later and returned with an exceedingly small concentration of a masking agent, furosemide. The re-analysis did not detect the presence of any other prohibited substance that may have a performance-enhancing effect.

As you know I would never, ever knowingly or deliberately take a banned substance without a TUE. It is not acceptable within my own personal values, nor ever acceptable within the culture of our team. I have always abhorred doping within the sport so you can imagine how sickened and horrified I am to find myself in this predicament. This is my worst nightmare.

You may be aware that diuretics are known contaminants of over-the-counter medications. I believe that this is what has occurred here as I consumed a number of over-the-counter medications in the week prior to test. This explains the exceptionally low concentration (6ng/ml).

To put it in perspective, the minimum required performance level for the detection of furosemide in 2012 was 250ng/ML. Given its high excretion rate, it is implausible that I would have knowingly taken this substance for an improper purpose. Unfortunately for me though, I am not able to produce physical evidence 8 years after the fact and the reality is that the precision of testing has become so good it has now exceeded the quality control measures for over-the-counter medications.

The IOC have filed proceedings against me in the Court of Arbitration for Sport and are looking to disqualify all of my results from the London Games, including the Medley Relay team.

Through my lawyers I have objected to this in the strongest possible terms. This outcome would be grossly unfair and disproportionate, particularly given I did not swim in the final. I also think it is not right for the Court of Arbitration for Sport to make a decision about this when you are not a party to the proceedings.

I am truly sorry to have to inform you of this shocking situation. I expect the matter will become public imminently so I wanted to inform you in advance of this and convey to you my strong conviction of my innocence and commitment to protesting the disqualification of the 4 x 100m Medley result.

The matter will be heard this Monday 9 November in Switzerland.

If you would like to discuss any of it with me, give me a call… More importantly, you can contact my lawyer, if you wish to discuss any aspect of the legal process and what steps, if any, you can take.

I will, of course, let you know the outcome as soon as I know it myself.”

Regards Brenton

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H.Bick

The Age reported that a devastated Brenton Rickard will fight the punishment in a Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing beginning on Monday in Lausanne, Switzerland on behalf of his teammates, saying he only swam the heat of the relay in London, not the final, and says his fellow Dolphins should not be fall guys.

“The result emerged some eight years after the London Olympics when Rickard’s sample – which has been stored in a laboratory – was re-screened. His A and B samples were consistent in the re-testing,” said The Age story

“The World Anti-Doping Agency extended the statute of limitations for violations from eight years to 10 years in 2015.

“The 37-year-old former president of the Australian Swimmers Association is adamant he is innocent, and will argue that punishing his countrymen is disproportionate and unfair.

“A three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Rickard says that in the days before the 2012 Olympics drug test he took “over-the-counter medications” that must have contained the diuretic.

“In his email to teammates, Rickard stresses his “innocence and commitment to protesting the disqualification of the 4 x 100m Medley result” and underscores the “exceedingly small concentration” of Furosemide detected in his re-tested sample: 6ng/ml.

“To put it in perspective, the minimum required performance level for the detection of furosemide in 2012 was 250ng/ML,” Rickard writes in the email, obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

“Given its high excretion rate, it is implausible that I would have knowingly taken this substance for an improper purpose.

“You may be aware that diuretics are known contaminants of over-the-counter medications. I believe that this is what has occurred here as I consumed a number of over-the-counter medications in the week prior to test. This explains the exceptionally low concentration (6ng/ml).

Unfortunately for me though, I am not able to produce physical evidence eight years after the fact and the reality is that the precision of testing has become so good it has now exceeded the quality control measures for over-the-counter medications.”

The court action was launched after the results of Rickard’s A and B re-screenings were consistent.

The Australian Olympic Committee is aware of the stunning case and proceedings.

“I am truly sorry to have to inform you of this shocking situation,” Brenton Rickard wrote to his teammates.

“This outcome would be grossly unfair and disproportionate, particularly given I did not swim in the final. I also think it is not right for the Court of Arbitration for Sport to make a decision about this when you are not a party to the proceedings.

“I have always abhorred doping within the sport so you can imagine how sickened and horrified I am to find myself in this predicament. This is my worst nightmare.”

Brenton Rickard was a member of the national swim team’s leadership group until his retirement in 2013 and helped Australia set the fourth fastest heat time in the Olympic relay on August 3, 2012.

The next day, after the interchange of two swimmers – Magnussen and Sprenger were brought in for the final instead of Rickard and D’Orsogna – Australia claimed bronze.

Should the IOC’s case be upheld, a quintet of British swimmers stands to win the bronze medals of the disqualified Australian swimmers, altering both Australian and British Olympic records and medal counts.

Australia’s medal tally from the 2012 London Olympics would drop to 34 and its haul from the pool to nine.

10 comments

  1. Paul Bruce

    No court ruling is going to tarnish my opinion of the Man or Athlete, that is Brenton Rickard. The fact that regardless of the individual outcome he is fighting for the rights of his relay teammates, shows the type of person he is.

  2. avatar
    Freddy

    But Sun Yang gets to keep his medals .

    • avatar
      CP

      Where is Mack Horton now?

  3. Jane Kennedy

    He should contact Mack Horton for moral support.

  4. Jacqui Carpenter

    Really after 8 years. How many samples do they keep and how secure are they. And no performance enhancing drugs detected. You would think they would have better things to do with their time.

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