On July 12, I was called to the head of Swimming Australia's head coach; I just went shopping with my teammate. Unaware of what I encountered, I was as always happy and buzzing.
That all changed when I walked through the door to hear that ASADA had called. My brain immediately panicked, something was wrong, I had never missed a test, it was not my time, so why would they want me?
I sat down, waiting for ASADA to answer my call, and then a female voice said those frightening words to every athlete: “We have tested your sample and it has returned positively to a prohibited substance.”
I felt my heart break immediately. I couldn't breathe to answer her next few questions. At that moment I could do nothing, nothing that the people around me could do to help me.
I wanted to open up to my teammates and discuss what happened to them.
I was completely in shock and wondered how and why this happened to me. My brain repeated again and again: & # 39; I have always checked my substances & # 39 ;, & # 39; I have not done this & # 39 ;, & # 39; Why does this happen to me? & # 39 ;, & # 39; I have done nothing wrong & # 39 ;.
I could still hear the woman in the background on the phone, talk more about what's going on and that I should leave the camp and return home, because I immediately received a provisional suspension until the & # 39; B- sample & # 39; was tested.
She also explained what had been found in my system, I had never heard of it, let alone that I could pronounce it; she said it & # 39; Ligandrol & # 39; used to be. I now know that this can be found in contaminated supplements.
After many hours of crying and feeling so helpless, I managed to pack my bags and I went for a 8 km walk with my coach, Dean Boxall, while the team was informed of my departure, without any indication of why. I wanted to open up and discuss with them what had happened.
I felt so vulnerable. But I knew they had to focus on themselves and continue to represent Australia without me on the team. I respect my teammates and my sport too much to take their moment away, so I returned home and said nothing.
Upon returning home I felt more sadness than ever in my 20-year life. When I saw my parents, brothers, friend and grandmother, I fell apart into a million pieces because it was so hard for me to deal with.
I have not intentionally taken this substance; I didn't even know it was in my system. It just didn't make sense and it still doesn't. On Friday, July 19, my & # 39; B monster & # 39; results within.
I felt that I had hoped that I had not used this substance and that it was all a mistake during testing and that I could return to compete for my country and with the team, but that was not the case.
When I read the results, my brain couldn't even understand what I was seeing. I had to reread it several times before I felt the same pain and sorrow again. I immediately turned to my grandmother, who was with me at the time and wailed. No longer holding my legs up, I fell to the floor.
I haven't slept much since then and I feel a sense of emptiness. I think of what I worked so hard to take away from me, and I had done nothing wrong.
Since I was 10 years old, I wanted to be part of the Australian swimming team to represent my country. I never swam for the medals; they were always an added bonus. I swam for the feeling that you get when you stand behind the blocks in a golden cap.
The feeling you get when you race in a relay race with a group of great women and feel a sense of purpose and success. I am proud to be the woman young girls look up and want to be, not for the medals I win, but for the way I present myself day in and day out around the pool and in everyday life.
Now I have the feeling that all that can be removed because of some kind of pollution; no athlete is safe from the risks of contamination. Reminding myself why I swim and why I want to be on the Australian team is what kept me fighting.
The day I found out was the day I started my fight to prove my innocence. I, along with my lawyer, management team, doctor and family, have worked continuously to not only prove my innocence, but also to find out how this substance came into contact with me, to ensure that it doesn't happen to anyone else because I would not wish this experience on my worst enemy.
Every day I wake up and I have a roller coaster of one day. Some days I am okay and others not. This will be an ongoing challenge, not just to try to prove my innocence to ensure that I can train again for the dream I have had since I was a little girl, but also the challenge to face the judgment of people who don't know me; people who simply assume the worst.
I shouldn't defend my reputation because I know I didn't do this.
I have watched and supported every member of the Australian swimming team during the World Championships. I was inconsolable when I watched my teammate, Ariane Titmus, win the 400 freestyle, and my teammates did an excellent job in the 4×100 and 4×200 freestyle relays, because they were both relays I had hoped for during my time at Worlds.
I trained hard to race there and support the team, but I understood the rules of ASADA and I followed all their processes. Deep inside, I feel like I don't have to defend my reputation because I know I didn't do this.
I have never missed a random drug test and I always have my whereabouts up-to-date. In Australia, in a sport like swimming, I have the feeling that an athlete cannot deliberately take a prohibited substance in any way and cannot get caught. I get tested about every four to six weeks, so why should I take something banned and do this for myself?
Especially in the run-up to the competition where I could be tested daily. Why should I give myself this misery and run the risk of jeopardizing my career and my character? I have not and would not cheat and will continue to fight to clear my name.
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