Australian Olympic medalist swimmer tells teammates of positive retest from 2012

Brenton Rickard
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Retired Australian swimmer Brenton Rickard said a retest of a 2012 Olympic drug-testing sample returned an exceedingly small amount of a banned substance, which he unknowingly ingested, that could lead to Australia being stripped of an Olympic medal for doping for the first time, according to a report.

Rickard, a breaststroker, swam in the preliminary heats of the London Olympic men’s medley relay. Australia later took bronze in the final, just ahead of Great Britain. Relay swimmers in heats also receive medals, even if they don’t swim in the final.

Rickard, in an email to teammates, said a reanalysis of a doping sample from the London Games returned a concentration of six nanograms per milliliter of furosemide, a diuretic and masking agent, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“To put it in perspective, the minimum required performance level for the detection of furosemide in 2012 was 250ng/ML,” Rickard wrote, according to the report. “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.”

It’s believed that Australia has never been stripped of an Olympic medal for any reason, said Bill Mallon of the OlyMADMen and Olympedia.org.

Rickard, also a 2008 Olympic silver medalist in the 200m breast and medley relay, wrote that he would never knowingly take a banned substance without a therapeutic use exemption.

“I have always abhorred doping within the sport so you can imagine how sickened and horrified I am to find myself in this predicament,” he wrote, according to the report. “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.”

Rickard said a hearing in his case is set for Monday involving the International Olympic Committee and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). He is fighting against a possible disqualification of his results from the London Games. None of the IOC, CAS, Australian Olympic Committee or Swimming Australia have commented publicly on Rickard.

A disqualification “would be grossly unfair and disproportionate, particularly given I did not swim in the final,” Rickard reportedly wrote.

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