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Singapore swimmer Joseph Schooling confesses to consuming cannabis overseas: MINDEF

Joseph Schooling will no longer be allowed to take leave or disrupt his National Service to train or compete after he confessed to consuming cannabis overseas, says MINDEF.

Singapore swimmer Joseph Schooling confesses to consuming cannabis overseas: MINDEF
Singapore swimmer Joseph Schooling at the May 2022 SEA Games in Vietnam. He later admitted to taking cannabis overseas while on short-term disruption from full-time National Service (NS) to train and participate in the Games. (File photo: SportSG/Andy Chua)

SINGAPORE: Singapore swimmer Joseph Schooling has confessed to consuming cannabis overseas in May when he was on short-term disruption from full-time National Service (NS) to train and participate in the SEA Games, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said on Tuesday (Aug 30).

Given his abuse of disruption privileges, MINDEF said Schooling will no longer be eligible for leave or disruption to train or compete while in NS.

The ministry added that a formal letter of warning has also been issued to Schooling, informing him of the serious consequences of drug abuse meted out to all Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel.

Following existing protocol, 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.

The ministry added that the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) has concluded its investigations on Schooling, and handed over the management of the case to the SAF as he is a full-time national serviceman.

Urine tests for controlled drugs conducted on Schooling returned negative but he confessed to consuming cannabis while overseas in May.

"The SAF maintains a strict zero-tolerance policy towards drug abuse. Service personnel who test positive for drug abuse will be charged and sentenced to the SAF Detention Barracks," MINDEF said.

"Those who are suspected of or confessed to abusing drugs will be placed on an SAF-supervised urine test regime as part of the treatment and rehabilitation process."

"MOMENT OF WEAKNESS"

Sport Singapore (SportSG) said in a separate statement that Schooling, 27, and fellow national swimmer Amanda Lim were investigated by CNB for possible offences related to the consumption of cannabis.

Lim, 29, has been issued a stern warning by CNB under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

"Lim and Schooling are presently national carded athletes, and receive support from SportSG in that capacity," said the agency.

Olympic gold medallist Schooling issued an apology on Tuesday evening.

"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," he said in a statement. 

The athlete said that he “gave in to a moment of weakness” after going through a very tough period in his 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."

Last year, Schooling failed to qualify for the semi-finals of the 100m butterfly event at the Tokyo Olympics.

His father Colin died in November last year. He had been undergoing treatment for cancer. 

At the SEA Games in Hanoi this year, he won two gold medals and a bronze medal. Speaking on the sidelines of the SEA Games in May, he said it was important to discuss and manage expectations put on athletes who are serving NS. 

A senior member of the Hanoi SEA Games organising committee told CNA he had no information to provide at the moment relating to Schooling’s confession of cannabis use.

The official said SEA Games organisers had collected random samples from all SEA Games medal winners, and that the organisers strictly followed doping control codes of the World Anti-Doping Agency or WADA.

Amanda Lim and Joseph Schooling after a race at the 2018 FINA Swimming World Cup in Singapore. (Photo: Facebook/Team Singapore, Singapore Swimming Association, Simone Castrovillari)

SportSG said all Team Singapore athletes are expected to uphold the "highest standards of conduct as representatives of Singapore on the sporting world stage, at all times" and that unlawful or unsportsmanlike conduct will not be condoned.

"SportSG intends to thoroughly review the circumstances behind these cases, and determine the appropriate steps to be taken thereafter. The Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) and Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) will also be reviewing the appropriate actions on their part," said SportSG.

SSA president Mark Chay said the association is disappointed by the actions of Schooling and Lim.

"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 among our community through our national coaches and affiliates."

CNA has asked the brands with which Schooling is associated for their comments, including whether they intend to maintain their commercial relationship with him.

Source: CNA/zl

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