By SAMANTHA TURNBULL firstname.lastname@example.org
BYRON BAY world champion kayaker Nathan Baggaley says he did not knowingly use performance-enhancing drugs, despite testing positive to steroids.
The dual Olympic silver medallist tested positive to stanozolol and methandienone on September 13 and will answer the charges at a Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) and Canoeing Australia hearing in about three weeks.
If found guilty, he could be suspended from competition for up to four years.
Baggaley and his Byron Bay-based parents, Noel and Sue, were not returning phone calls from the media, but a statement issued yesterday by law firm Minter Ellison said the kayaker had never knowingly taken the banned drugs.
Lawyer Tony O'Reilly said in the statement that an investigation had determined how the drugs came to be in Baggaley's body, but did not say what those circumstances were.
"We are instructed that Nathan had never knowingly taken a performance enhancing drug," O'Reilly said.
"Nathan has been drug-tested a large number of times in his career ? including as recently as two months ago ? and all such previous tests have been negative.
"The investigations that have been undertaken since Nathan was informed of the positive test have established how the relevant substances came to be present in Nathan's body.
"We are in the process of preparing Nathan's defence to any infraction notice that is issued against him."
The 29-year-old yesterday released a statement of his own in a blog on his website.
The entry was titled: "I wish I could help you Schapelle ... but I've got my own problems!"
He wrote his worst nightmare as an athlete had come true.
"I can't comment at this stage on the circumstances surrounding my case, but I will re-assure you that I am as passionate as ever against cheating in sport," he said.
"To the knockers out there who are always ready to jump on to something like this, just be patient and wait for the hearing to take place before you judge me.
"I have no doubt this will all work out fairly in the end."
Baggaley also pleaded with the media to wait until it was safe for him to say more about how he ended up in his predicament.