By MEGAN KINNINMENT
'Bloody devastating' was how the father of Byron Bay kayaker Nathan Baggaley yesterday described the drug charges brought against the world champion and dual Olympic silver medallist last month.
Nathan Baggaley tested positive to the performance-enhancing drugs stanozolol and methandienone in an out-of-competition test conducted by the Australian Sports Drug Agency on behalf of Sports Lifesaving on September 13.
The family has vowed to fight the charges and clear Baggaley's name at an SLSA and Canoeing Australia hearing at a date yet to be set.
"Nathan's devastated," his father Noel said yesterday from the family home at Suffolk Park, speaking out for the first time since the drugs charges made headlines.
"He's been involved in international sport for 12 years ? we can't believe this is happening.
"It's like someone saying to you, 'that's it, you're sacked'.
"And sacked from a job that has become your whole life."
If Baggaley is found guilty he could be suspended for up to four years from professional competition.
While unable to comment on the legal aspects of the case, Noel Baggaley was yesterday scathing in his condemnation of the process his son was subjected to.
"In any other legal setting you would be considered innocent before being found guilty," Mr Baggaley said.
"But with this you have to work backwards to clear yourself and reduce your sentence."
Legal representatives for the three-times world champion have already said he did not knowingly take any illegal performance-enhancing substance.
On a more positive note, Mr Baggaley said Nathan had been buoyed by messages of support.
"It's been unbelievable the level of support he has had from people," Mr Baggaley said.
"There's been so many emails and phone calls from around the world.
"They say they can't believe this is happening to him."
Mr Baggaley said Nathan had taken the drug charges so hard he had suspended most of his usual training schedule while he tried to sort out the issue.
But yesterday, Baggaley snr said his son had taking to the water in Byron Bay in his kayak - perhaps a sign that the fighting spirit that helped take Baggaley all the way to world titles and Olympic silver medals would see him through this test.