It could be six golds for schooling

National swimmer Joseph Schooling

There is a chance that Singapore swimming sensation Joseph Schooling could add to his haul of five gold medals at last year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games.

The New Paper understands that Indonesian swimmer Indra Gunawan, part of his country's 4x100m medley relay team which clinched the gold at December's SEA Games in Myanmar, has been disqualified by Fina (the International Swimming Federation) for testing positive for a banned substance.

Indra, along with compatriot Putera Guntur Pratama, tested positive for methylhexaneamine, following a doping test conducted after the 4th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games held in Incheon, South Korea, last July.

On Monday, the Fina Doping Panel imposed a two-year ban on both athletes starting from July 1, 2013 - which means his SEA Games gold-winning feat is invalid.

Singapore's quartet of Schooling, Quah Zheng Wen, Clement Lim and Christopher Cheong finished second in the race, a whopping two seconds behind the Indonesians.

UNCLEAR

Indonesia's disqualification, however, is unclear at the moment.

Speaking to The New Paper on Tuesday, Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) secretary-general Chris Chan, said: "The result of the race stands until the South-east Asian Games Federation (SAGF) looks into it and decides otherwise.

"If Fina had suspended him two years since last July, then he should not have been at the SEA Games, but it's not clear why his ban was imposed so late.

"So, I can't say if Indonesia is disqualified from the event; I don't have the authority to say that."

Indra, 26, swam the breaststroke leg in the relay.

Both his A and B samples came up positive in the Fina test conducted at the event in South Korea last year.

TNP understands that the Indonesia Swimming Federation suspended him for three months thereafter, which meant the swimmer was cleared in time to compete in Myanmar.

But Chan said: "There are too many assumptions and questions at the moment.

"Why did Fina act so late, and why, if the swimmer had failed both sample tests, did the (Indonesia Swim Federation) not suspend him indefinitely?"

Chan revealed that the SAGF's new committee will convene here next month, where the issue is likely to be raised.

The SAGF could instruct its medical committee to investigate and report the findings, before a final decision is made.

Chan added that the entire process could take a few months.

Schooling, 18, was the star of the Myanmar Games after his haul of five golds and a silver in the pool.

The 2012 Olympian continues to study and train in the United States as he plots a path to possible medal glory at the Rio Games in 2016.

Singapore Swimming Association president Jeffrey Leow heard the news on Tuesday morning.

He said: "In theory, acccording to Fina doping rules, all results during (an athlete's ban) will be nullified, and the medals or prizes will be pushed up.

"But I have no idea how the process in this case works, or what the (SAGF) will do."

When contacted by TNP, Schooling's father, Colin, said that it would be positive news if the relay team did eventually get the gold, especially when his son had targeted six wins in Myanmar.

But he added: "We finished a good two seconds behind the Indonesians. I think even if (Indra) didn't swim, we still wouldn't have won."


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