The OJ defence
IAN MONAGHAN and AAP
A GLASS of orange juice has grounded Byron Bay's triple world champion kayaker Nathan Baggaley, effectively suspending him from competition until early 2007 and adding his name to the list of sportsmen and women found guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs.
The 29-year-old told the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) that he drank the juice, unaware that it included a cocktail of the banned steroids stano-zolol and methandienone.
It's understood the juice was his brother's, who was taking the steroids to help recover from injuries received playing rugby union for Ballina in the local Far North Coast competition.
"It was kind of a combination of things and it does unfortunately involve others and I don't want to involve them at this stage other than to give the outcome that for me has been a relief," he said.
The performance-enhancers were revealed following out-of-competition tests carried out by the Australian Sports Drug Agency on behalf of Surf Lifesaving Australia in September.
Baggaley said the court decision to ban him from competition for 15 months took into account that the drugs were consumed inadvertently, evidenced by the downgrading of the suspension from two years.
"It's been a long couple of months and to be honest the main thing for me is that I wanted to keep my credibility and to have the judge acknowledge that I wasn't a cheat, that I wasn't knowingly taking prohibited substances," he said.
"I obliviously still got a sanction but it has been diminished so it's not the full two years. So I acknowledge ... that it was a silly mistake, I'll live by it now.
"But the best thing is that I feel I've cleared my name."
All of Baggaley's previous results, including his silver medals in both the K1 and the K2 500m events at the Athens Olympics last year will stand.
His legal team said they would wait until the full judgement was handed down ? expected to be next month -before deciding if any appeal would be launched.
Surf Life Saving Australia chief executive Greg Nance said it was unlikely his organisation would appeal the decision, saying he thought 15 months was fair due to the 'mitigating' circumstances.
Neither Baggaley, nor Canoeing Australia high performance manager Richard Fox see the ban affecting the champion's preparations for the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
"From a performance point of view you can look across all sports and see how people can take some time off, especially someone with that level of performance, and they come back as good or better," Fox told AAP.
"It depends on what he does during the time, we saw (fellow Olympian) Clint Robinson had a good break before his campaign into Athens and he and Nathan won a silver medal together there."
Baggaley, who won two silver medals in 500m events at Athens in 2004, said he was definitely eligible for Beijing.
"At the end of the day, I miss one season," he said.