CHESHIRE Jets star Matt Schneck will soon be back in action – after receiving one of the shortest drugs bans in history.
The 22-year-old centre tested positive for taking methylhexaneamine (MHA) in October, but claimed he was the innocent victim of a mix-up as the prohibited stimulant was listed under a different name on a supplement he was taking.
UK Anti-Doping’s investigations supported Schneck’s account and he has been given a three-month ban, backdated from November 14 to February 18 – the shortest handed down in the world for anyone taking MHA.
The 6ft 8in American, who will now be available for the trip to Guildford Heat on February 19, said: “It is a credit to UKAD and the lawyers for looking at this situation and assessing it correctly.
“It’s been a very stressful time for me away from home and not being able to play basketball, something that has always been a big stress relief.
“I’ve just tried to be a supporter of the team and stay positive, that’s all I could do.”
Wisconsin native Schneck joined the Jets in the summer and fast became their on-court talisman due to his bullish style.
But a random test after an away game at Leicester Riders on October 23 showed up the stimulant and led to Schneck being provisionally suspended by the Jets pending an investigation.
The player immediately held his hands up and claimed it was an honest mistake.
Schneck ran checks with UKAD, the Jets and coaches in the US on the supplement he was taking and it passed, due to MHA coming under a different name.
He is pleased he has been cleared and accepts his ban is a necessary deterrent to those who do try to cheat.
Schneck said: “Me and the organisation knew I had made all the reasonable checks.
“Due to the legalities of it I couldn’t make anything public early on so it’s a relief to get three months and to show the fans that we were being honest.
“I did want to come out right away and say I had taken the substance and this is all I could ask for.
“It seems when any athlete gets caught the first thing they do is plead innocence.
“Half the time they are and half the time they’re not and for me to have this really scrutinised by UKAD very professionally and have them say you’re right you didn’t know you were taking this, I think that’s good because people can see that and judge for themselves.”
The news came as a great early Christmas present for Schneck and the Jets, who are keen to see their ‘bull in the paint’ return to action.
Jets head coach Paul Smith said: “I’m pleased for Matt and the team that we now have closure on this.
“We look forward to welcoming him back into action after his ban.”