SINGAPORE — A third Singapore national swimmer - SEA Games men's 50m butterfly and 50m freestyle champion Teong Tzen Wei - has admitted to consumption of controlled drugs, believed to be cannabis, while representing Team Singapore in overseas competitions.
The 24-year-old - who also won a silver medal in July's Commonwealth Games - joins Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling and multiple SEA Games gold medallist Amanda Lim in being issued with a letter of warning by Sport Singapore (SportSG).
In a media release on Wednesday (28 September), the city-state's sports governing body also suspended support to all three swimmers as carded athletes under its High Performance Scheme for a period of one month from 1 October, following the conclusion of its internal review last week.
This means that the trio will not receive training assistance grants and access to sports science and sports medicine facilities and services in the one-month period. Teong, who is also a spexScholar, will also have his scholarship benefits withdrawn for one month.
"SportSG has found that the three athletes had fallen short of the code of conduct expected of all TeamSG athletes as part of their athlete agreement," the media release said.
"SportSG takes the breaches of the code of conduct seriously. Team Singapore athletes are expected to hold the highest standards of conduct as they represent Singapore on the world stage and are role models for Singaporeans."
Negative urine tests, but all admitted to drug consumption
The three athletes had been investigated by the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) for drug-related offences.
All three swimmers' urine tested negative for controlled drugs, but they had admitted to consumption of controlled drugs - believed to be cannabis - while they were representing Team Singapore in overseas competitions this year. In addition, Lim was issued a stern warning by CNB for the offence of possession of a drug utensil.
SportSG noted that all three athletes cooperated fully throughout the internal review process, and readily admitted to the consumption of controlled drugs.
"They had expressed remorse for their lapses in judgment, and have appealed to be given a second chance to prove themselves and fulfil their roles and responsibilities as national athletes," it said in its media release.
"All three athletes have resolved not to abuse controlled drugs in the future, and are also committed to making amends by contributing back to the sporting community and play a part in education and other efforts to prevent others from making the same mistake.
"SportSG will continue to support all three athletes after the period of suspension, in both their sporting endeavours as well as their continued rehabilitation from this episode."
Schooling accepts consequences of his mistake
Schooling subsequently released a media statement, saying that he had made a mistake and will accept the consequences. As he is currently serving his national service (NS), Singapore Armed Forces had earlier stripped him of his eligibility for leave or disruption to train or compete while he is still in NS.
"It's disappointing, of course, to receive news of the suspension of support. As a national athlete, we need all-rounded support to help navigate us in our journey in all aspects of life," Schooling said in his statement.
"I made a mistake and I accept the consequences. I have been training on my own for the last five to six weeks in my spare time outside of my commitments to national service.
"I’ll continue to do so and thank you to everyone who has stood by me."
Meanwhile, the Singapore Swimming Association also issued a statement saying that Schooling, Lim and Teong will not be able to train at the National Aquatics Centre or have access to any facilities, benefits or services accorded to high-performance athletes, during their one-month suspension period.
SSA president Mark Chay said that, while the association has a zero-tolerance stance on the use of controlled drugs, the swimmers should not be ostracised from the community for their mistakes.
“The three swimmers have realised their mistakes and are remorseful for their actions,” he added. “They will face the consequences for their actions.
"More importantly, the association is taking steps for us, as a swimming community, to come together and help our own get back on their feet."
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