Olympic kayaking medallist Nathan Baggaley, whose chances of returning to the sport at the top level seem to be diminishing.
Olympic kayaking medallist Nathan Baggaley, whose chances of returning to the sport at the top level seem to be diminishing.

Another blow to Baggaley

bY STEVE SPINKS AND AAP

BYRON BAY'S Nathan Baggaley is frustrated. The two-time Olympic silver medallist is desperately keen to re-establish himself as one of the world's best kayakers.

But the odds are mounting against him ever returning to mainstream paddling.

Yesterday, Australian Canoeing announced it would not accept his application to be reinstated into the sport even though he had served a two-year suspension for failing a drug test in 2005 for the steroids stanozolol and methandione.

"What we communicated to Nathan is that his application hasn't been accepted at this point in time," Australian Canoeing chief executive Kate Heeley said.

"It is under constant review. He's not currently able to compete in Australian canoeing events."

Heeley said Baggaley could reapply to be reinstated but it was up to the discretion of the sport's governing body.

Australian Canoeing's harsh stance is believed to stem from the drug charges Baggaley still faces in relation to 762 ecstasy tablets police found in a car he was in last February.

The three-time world champion has been committed to stand trial in Brisbane Supreme Court.

Baggaley understands Australian Canoeing's position. "I spoke with them and I can see their point of view," the 31-year-old told The Northern Star.

"I think they're sitting on the fence and waiting to see the results of the court case, which I guess is fair enough.

"It's frustrating and disappointing from my point of view but I know I put myself in this position."

Baggaley said he had sought a provisional membership from Australian Canoeing that would enable him to compete in sanctioned races. It could also be easily retracted if needed.

"It's out of my hands and it's tough to deal with but I haven't got the results I've got being a quitter," he said.

"I guess you get a certain level of mental toughness." Despite Australian Canoeing's stance, Baggaley retains faith he can compete in Beijing and is in training for the Australian trials which will be staged in March.

The former Byron Bay Surf Club paddler also said people who think he's getting what he deserved should not pass judgment before the judicial system does.

"People who say that don't know me as a person," Baggaley said.

"They're judging me on what they read in the paper and, due to legal reasons, I can't say my point of view.

"So I've just go to bear it and take the knockers." Baggaley said that he had sought counselling and was having weekly drug tests in an effort to show authorities he is clean.

"I'm doing that on my own as a sign of good faith," he said. "I'm trying to do something positive about it. "I just hope they give me the chance to get out there and race."

While Australian Canoeing may have banned him from competition, Baggaley will actually compete in an ocean surf ski long distance race next month.

"It's run by a separate organisation and they've got no problem with me competing," he said. "At least it's something to aim for and I can get out there."

Baggaley won twin silver medals in the K1 500m and K2 500m races at the Olympics in 2004.

His partner in the K2 at Athens, Clint Robinson, is in an Australian team training camp on the Gold Coast this week.

"I like the bloke," the 35-year-old Queenslander said. "I've never had any major run-ins with Nathan. I've paddled with him and never saw him take drugs or anything but I'm not a real big nightlife, social guy either.

"I feel sorry for him in a way but I believe ... it's like anyone in life, if you do the wrong thing you have to do the time for it.

"I hope the fact is he hasn't and he's been in an unfortunate situation like he claims he has.

"I still believe he has a lot to offer to the sport and hopefully he's matured a lot in himself and can offer that in a positive way."



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