Former swimmer Brenton Rickard to face Cas drugs hearing

Former swimmer Brenton Rickard is unlikely to get an immediate ruling in his positive drugs case which threatens to strip Australian athletes of Olympic medals for the first time.

Rickard and his legal team will front the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday night (AEDT) after retrospective testing showed a diuretic in the swimmer’s sample from the 2012 London Olympics.

Rickard swam a breaststroke leg in a heat of the 4x100m medley at the London Games but was replaced for the final, in which Australia won bronze.

His positive test for the masking agent furosemide means all Australians who swam in the medley, in heats and finals, could lose their bronze medals. Rickard, James Magnussen, Christian Sprenger, Hayden Stoeckel, Matt Targett and Tommaso D’Orsogna contested the event at the London Games.

An Australian athlete has never been stripped of an Olympic medal because of a positive drugs test.

Rickard’s legal team, headed by Sydney-based lawyer Rebekah Giles, will argue the furosemide in Rickard’s urine sample, re-tested eight years after the London Olympics, was minute.

Giles says the furosemide in Rickard’s sample was likely a known contaminant of an over-the-counter medication he took at the time. Panadol was listed on the swimmer’s doping control form at the London Games.

Giles says rules on proving innocence at the Cas hearing are stacked against Rickard given the eight-year lapse in time between the original test and re-test.

The Cas hearing, in the case brought by the International Olympic Committee, will start at 7pm AEDT Monday. But Giles told AAP it was “highly unlikely” that a ruling would be made soon after submissions were heard.

Rickard, now aged 37, has protested his innocence. In an email to fellow swimmers, Rickard described the case as his “worst nightmare”, saying he would never knowingly or deliberately take a banned substance.

“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 in the email.

Rickard also raced at the London Games in the 100m breaststroke and 200m breaststroke, finishing sixth and seventh in the respective finals.

A former president of the Australian Swimmers Association, Rickard held national and Commonwealth records during his career in which he also won silver medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the 200m breaststroke and 4x100m medley.