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Australian swimmer Shayna Jack back in the pool after two-year doping ban

Australian swimmer Shayna Jack has returned to the pool for the first time in two years as her two-year doping ban finally ends. 

The World Championships and Commonwealth Games medallist was one of the rising stars of the pool until her world came crashing down in 2019.

Jack, 22, tested positive to banned muscle-builder Ligandrol, leaving her swimming career and Tokyo Olympics hopes in tatters.

She appealed her four-year ban and had it halved late last year after the Court of Arbitration for Sport  found she did not knowingly ingest the prohibited substance.

Sport Integrity Australia is appealing the reduced sentence, but for now she is free to train and compete - and wasted no time diving back in. 

Shayna Jack celebrated her return to the pool on Wednesday after her two year doping ban ended

'The water has never felt so good' Shayna Jack (pictured) wrote after her training session

Jack was spotted looking happy and relaxed as she arrived at Brisbane's St Peters Western Swim Club with coach Dean Boxall at 6am on Wednesday.

She stretched for half an hour before swimming for two hours, later sharing photos of her pool session on Instagram.

'The water has never felt so good. I cannot begin to describe how amazing it felt to walk through the gates with my coach and squad. I know I am stronger mentally and physically,' she wrote.

She captioned an Instagram Story video: 'What we've all been waiting for. I'm back. There is no better feeling.'  

Jack thanked her family, boyfriend, coach, friends, lawyers, management, and sponsors for their support and sticking by her during the ordeal. 

But she acknowledged the nightmare isn't over yet with another appeal to face after Sport Integrity Australia and World Anti-Doping Association appealed the revised two-year ban. 

Her years-long legal battle cost her more than $130,000, and counting, and deeply affected her mental health.

'I was kind of naïve in a way thinking people would believe me. I was very wrong,' Jack told ABC's Australian Story.

'One day I was an elite athlete and the next day, everything that I knew had just been taken away from me in one moment.' 

Shayna Jack (left) was pictured arriving at her first training session in two years with her coach Dean Boxall (right)

Shayna Jack looked happy and relaxed as she arrived at St Peters Western  Swim Club for her first training session in two years

Jack said she 'may never know for sure' how she ingested the banned substance but has narrowed it down to several possibilities.

One is that she used a contaminated blender used by her boyfriend or brothers.

Another possibility is that it could have been in supplements she was taking were contaminated or came into contact with the banned substance while using a public pool or gym in Queensland while training for the 2019 world titles.

'I don't know where the Ligandrol came into contact with me,' Jack insists.

'I'm never going to know, which will always haunt me and always scare me.'

'I had no idea what it was and had never heard of it.' 

'If something is in your body, it's your fault. I had to fight for my career.

'I don't want other athletes to have to go through what I've been through. One day someone's not going to get through it.' 

Shayna Jack (pictured at a hearing in 2019) has endured two years of hell since testing positive to banned muscle-builder Ligandrol

Shayna Jack (pictured) was one of the rising stars of Australian swimming until her world came crashing down

Jack decided to break her silence to 'stand up for what's right in sport'.

'My fight is not just for me though – it is for all the athletes who inevitably are exposed to this system and it is also about standing up for what is right in sport,' she posted on Instagram at the time.

'My story tells the public about how an indefensible system punishes athletes in the most punitive way for providing an unintentional positive test. I want to thank 'everyone who has continued to support me throughout this fight!'

Jack was sent home in disgrace from the 2019 World Championships in South Korea after the results of her sample from a competition in Cairns weeks earlier came back positive. 

Jack and her family have since spent more than $130,000 of their life savings trying to clear her name.

A GoFundMe was set up earlier this year to help fight the latest appeal as donations recently surged past $50,000.

'I also just wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone who has donated to my GoFund me page as it has raised a whopping 50k,' Jack posted

Shayna Jack (pictured) has acknowledged that her two year nightmare isn't over yet

As my appeal process is still underway this money allows me to keep fighting for what is right in sport. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you all so thank you.' 

Jack revealed in November that a contaminated blender used by her boyfriend or brothers could have been the possible source of her positive drugs test.

Another possibility is that it could have been in supplements she was taking were contaminated or came into contact with the banned substance while using a public pool or gym in Queensland while training for the 2019 world titles.

She went to great lengths to prove her innocence, cutting off strands of her hair for samples and having her teeth whitener tested to see where the traces of the illegal substance came from.

The court's sole arbitrator Alan Sullivan QC applauded Jack's refusal to blame anyone else for the fact she had tested positive.

'Even though it would have perhaps suited her case to blame others, she refused to attribute such blame,' the court heard.

'She appeared to be completely straightforward, genuine and honest in the answers she gave.

'Her demeanour was excellent and her dismay at the situation she found herself in was evident. She became emotional at times in giving her evidence, but not inappropriately or theatrically so.'

WHAT EXACTLY IS LIGANDROL? 

 Ligandrol drastically increases muscle mass.

It is what pharmacists call a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM).

These drugs bind at specific sites on skeletal muscles. There, they initiate a cascade of processes which change the expression of different genes in the DNA of muscle cells. The end effect is an increase in the repair and growth of muscle.

This means Ligandrol works in a similar way to testosterone and anabolic steroids, although SARMs typically have fewer side effects.

The typical side effects of anabolic steriods can include short-term aggression and violence, acne, and sleeping difficulties, and long-term effects such as damage to the liver and kidneys, depression, and high blood pressure.

Because Ligandrol can potentially be used to gain an advantage in competitive sports, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) placed the drug on its prohibited list.

Source: The University of Sydney

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