Joseph Schooling: I gave in to a moment of weakness after going through a very tough period of my life
Former Olympic champion Joseph Schooling and fellow national swimmer Amanda Lim have both been found to have consumed a controlled drug.
Schooling has apologised after admitting to taking 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." he said in a statement on Tuesday (Aug 30).
"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."
In a statement on Tuesday, Sport Singapore said that the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) had conducted investigations into the pair for possible offences related to the consumption of cannabis.
At the conclusion of these investigations, Lim was issued a stern warning by CNB under the Misuse of Drugs Act while Schooling has been referred to the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) to assess and take the appropriate measures, given that he is currently undergoing National Service.
In a separate staement, Mindef said that the Singapore Armed Forces (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. 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.
It added that the Central Narcotics Bureau had concluded its investigations on PTE 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 PTE Joseph Schooling returned negative.
Mindef added that Schooling confessed to have consumed cannabis overseas in May 2022, 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 in a statement on Tuesday (Aug 30) that Schooling had confessed to having consumed cannabis overseas in May.
Mindef added that following existing protocol, Schooling will be placed on a supervised urine test regime for six months. All Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel who test positive during this regime will be charged and sentenced accordingly.
The Ministry said that given his abuse of disruption privileges, Schooling will no longer be eligible for leave or disruption to train or compete while in NS.
A formal letter of warning has also been issued to Schooling, informing him of the serious consequences of drug abuse meted out to all SAF personnel, who may be sentenced to up to nine months detention in the SAF Detention Barracks.
Lim and Schooling are presently national carded athletes, and receive support from SportSG in that capacity.
Sport SG added that 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.
SportSG said it 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.
Singapore adopts a zero-tolerance stance towards drugs. SportSG and SSA will be engaging the swimming and other sporting fraternities to underscore the importance of complying with Singapore's laws on drugs at all times.
Schooling, is currently serving his NS having enlisted in January.
It is an offence to consume drugs here. Those found guilty of taking a controlled drug such as methamphetamine or "ice", heroin and cannabis can be jailed for between one and 10 years, or fined an amount not exceeding $20,000, or both.
Those found to have consumed controlled drugs outside Singapore will also be liable for the drug consumption offence.
Schooling, 27, wrote himself into sporting folklore when he claimed Singapore's first Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Rio Games, beating American legend Michael Phelps in the 100m butterfly final. His timing of 50.39s is still a national record.
He received a hero's welcome when he returned to Singapore, with thousands thronging the streets to hail him during a bus-top parade.
Sponsors lined up to court him, with brands such as fashion label Hugo Boss, probiotic drink Yakult and imaging and optical products manufacturer Canon inking deals with the swimmer. His three-year deal with DBS Bank netted him a seven-figure sum, which put him in a select group of local athletes who have crossed the million-dollar mark in career earnings, including footballer Fandi Ahmad, golfer Mardan Mamat, and table tennis players Li Jiawei and Feng Tianwei.
But Schooling has yet to replicate the highs of 2016. In Rio, his winning time was 50.39 seconds. His best time since then was the 50.83 he clocked at the World Championships in July 2017.
At the Tokyo Olympics in August last year, he was unable to defend his 100m fly title, failing to even advance out of the heats. He eventually finished 44th in the field of 55.
He enlisted for national service in January though he was still able to race at the at the Singapore National Age Group Championships (SNAG) and the May 12-23 SEA Games - his most recent competitive outing.
Competing in four events, down from the six he entered at the last Games in 2019, he still managed to pick up two golds and a bronze in Hanoi.
There was also heartbreak at home with the death of his beloved father Colin in November. The senior Schooling, who had been instrumental in his son's success, died at 73 following a battle with liver cancer.
In April, Schooling revealed that he had "actually retired for a few hours on a given day before the SNAG". He added that he had made that decision not because he no longer had the motivation to compete, but "due to existential circumstances".
But he made a U-turn and decided to continue.
He said: "I still have a lot of goals and things I want to prove to myself."