'I gave in to a moment of weakness': Joseph Schooling apologises after confessing to consuming cannabis overseas
SINGAPORE: Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling apologised on Tuesday (Aug 30) after admitting to consuming cannabis while overseas in May.
"I am sorry that my actions have caused hurt to everyone around me, especially to my family and the young fans who look up to me," the 27-year-old national swimmer said in a statement on Tuesday.
"I gave in to a moment of weakness after going through a very tough period of my life. I demonstrated bad judgment and I am sorry.
"I made a mistake and I’m responsible for what I’ve done. I will make amends and right what is wrong. I won’t let you down again."
Schooling admitted to consuming cannabis while he was on short-term disruption from full-time National Service (NS) to train and participate in the Southeast Asian Games, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said on Tuesday.
Urine tests for controlled drugs returned negative but he confessed to consuming the drug while overseas in May.
Schooling and fellow swimmer Amanda Lim were both investigated by the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) for possible cannabis use.
Lim, 29, has been issued a stern warning by CNB under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
Schooling, Singapore's first and only Olympics champion, wrapped up the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam with two gold medals and a bronze in May.
He had a challenging year in 2021 when he was unable to defend his Rio Olympic title in the 100m butterfly event. He clocked 53.12s in his heat at the Tokyo Olympics and did not progress to the semi-finals of the event. He was 44th overall.
Later that year, Schooling’s father Colin died at the age of 73. He had been undergoing treatment for cancer in the months before.
In a statement on Tuesday, Sport Singapore (SportSG) said it will decide on the appropriate steps to be taken after it reviews the circumstances behind the cases involving Schooling and Lim.
"All TeamSG athletes are expected to uphold the highest standards of conduct as representatives of Singapore on the sporting world stage, at all times. Unlawful or unsportsmanlike conduct will not be condoned," said SportSG.
Singapore Swimming Association president Mark Chay said that it was disappointed by Lim and Schooling's actions.
"Drugs have no place in our society and we take a zero-tolerance stance towards illegal drug use," he added.
"This message, along with the expectations for our national athletes to uphold the highest standards of conduct, will be strongly reinforced amongst our community through our national coaches and affiliates."
At the conclusion of CNB's investigations, Schooling was referred to MINDEF and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) so that they could take the appropriate measures, given that he is currently undergoing National Service.
Under SAF's policy on drug abuse, Schooling will be placed on a supervised urine test regime for six months. All SAF personnel who test positive during this regime will be charged and sentenced accordingly, said MINDEF.
As a result of his abuse of disruption privileges, Schooling will no longer be eligible for leave or disruption to train or compete while in NS, MINDEF said.
"A formal letter of warning has also been issued to PTE Schooling, informing him of the serious consequences of drug abuse meted out to all SAF personnel, who may be sentenced up to nine months detention in the SAF Detention Barracks,” the ministry added.