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National swimmers’ drug use: SportSG says disciplinary action based on international standards, Singapore’s rehabilitation stance

SINGAPORE — Sport Singapore (SportSG) took into account international sporting benchmarks and Singapore's stance on rehabilitating drug users when deciding on the disciplinary action to take against three national swimmers who had consumed cannabis.

Sport Singapore said that it will continue to support national swimmers Joseph Schooling (pictured), Amanda Lim and Teong Tzen Wei after their suspensions are lifted, in both their sporting endeavours as well as their continued rehabilitation.
Sport Singapore said that it will continue to support national swimmers Joseph Schooling (pictured), Amanda Lim and Teong Tzen Wei after their suspensions are lifted, in both their sporting endeavours as well as their continued rehabilitation.
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SINGAPORE — Sport Singapore (SportSG) took into account international sporting benchmarks and Singapore's stance on rehabilitating drug users when deciding on the disciplinary action to take against three national swimmers who had consumed cannabis.

The national sports governing body said in a statement on Friday (Oct 7) that it also took into account the athletes’ breach of their terms of the agreement signed with SportSG.

The latest statement was issued in response to some public discussion regarding the disciplinary actions taken against the three swimmers Joseph Schooling, Amanda Lim and Teong Tzen Wei, it added.

The authorities first revealed in August that Schooling had admitted to taking cannabis in May this year while overseas and Lim was also investigated for possible offences related to the consumption of cannabis.

It later surfaced that Teong had also admitted to consuming a controlled drug overseas.

Last week, following its internal review of the athletes for drug consumption, SportSG announced that it had issued letters of warning and suspended support for the three athletes for a month from Oct 1.

Elaborating on its decision in Friday’s statement, SportSG said that it considered the standards of international bodies such as the World Anti-Doping Agency and national federations.

The World Anti-Doping Agency, for example, does not impose any sanctions for the ingestion or use of controlled drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, heroin and ecstasy — provided it is ingested or used outside of the competition period. 

“If the athlete tests positive for these drugs in-competition but can show that they have no relation to their competition performance, the athlete would face a one- to three-month suspension. A one-month suspension would apply if the athlete completes a drug rehabilitation programme,” said SportSG.

“SportSG’s decision considered that the athletes’ urine tests returned negative, and the athletes had on their own admitted to consuming cannabis outside of competition in the past.”

It also said that Singapore’s stance towards drug abusers is to focus on helping them rehabilitate and reintegrate into society.  

It thus took a position consistent with Singapore’s stance towards drug abusers, “which is to help them rehabilitate and give the three athletes the chance to make amends”, it added.

The agency maintained that the athletes must be held accountable for their lapses of judgement, but they should also be given a second chance to prove themselves and fulfil their roles and responsibilities as national athletes.

SportSG will continue to support all three athletes after their suspensions are lifted, in both their sporting endeavours as well as their continued rehabilitation, it said.

The Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC), which convened a disciplinary committee to look into the conduct of the athletes in August, told TODAY last week that the committee's decision is still pending.

Schooling and Lim had prize money for their Southeast Asian Games gold medals under the Major Games Award Programme withheld by SNOC.

However, Teong had on Sept 14 received S$35,000 in prize money under the same award programme for his silver medal in the 50m butterfly at the Commonwealth Games and two gold medals at the SEA Games, both this year. 

Related topics

Sports SportSG drug Joseph Schooling Amanda Lim Teong Tzen Wei rehab disciplinary action

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