Last September the international flatwater sprint racing community was shocked when Australian champion Nathan Baggaley tested positive for banned steroids. He was suspended from competition for 15 months. The results of the test, which was conducted out-of-competition, took everyone by surprise. Baggaley is one of the top men’s sprint athletes in the world, and a silver medalist at the 2004 Athens Olympics. He had been tested for banned performance-enhancing substances many times (50 at least, according to his estimate), always with negative results.
Baggaley didn’t deny that steroids were in his system. But he had an excuse: a relative recovering from an injury had mixed the drugs into a pitcher of orange juice, and Baggaley unknowingly poured himself a glass. “I am pleased to say that the judge found that I did not take any performance-enhancing drug deliberately,” Baggaley wrote on his Web page (www.nathanbaggaley.com.au/index.php). “I have learnt a very tough lesson that as an athlete you must be aware of everything that you consume . . . even in places you know and trust.”
Baggaley will be back in January 2007, well in time to qualify for the 2008 Olympics. After 10 years of competition, he added, “I could seriously do with the rest.”