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No cheat ... Ian Thorpe addresses the media

No cheat ... Ian Thorpe addresses the media (Getty Images)

Thorpe maintains innocence, vows to clear name

Retired Olympic swimming champion Ian Thorpe says he never "cheated" during his decorated career by using performance-enhancing drugs.

Thorpe told a media conference in Melbourne this afternoon he had no idea why a random doping test, taken in May last year, had produced an irregular result but insisted it was not because of banned substances.

Last night the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) confirmed unusually high levels of testosterone and luteninising hormone were found in the sample.

ASADA has told Thorpe he did not fail the doping test.

"I have never cheated and I pride myself on my record," Thorpe said.

"I firmly believe I am clean, I have never cheated and have always fulfilled my obligations.

"My reputation has already been tarnished and it is the hardest thing to take. There is no ideal outcome to all of this, but I will win."

Yesterday French sports newspaper L'Equipe claimed Thorpe had returned the irregular result when the test was conducted.

The paper reported that ASADA had initially decided to close its file on the test because of insufficient evidence, but world swimming's governing body FINA had then decided to appeal the ASADA decision.

ASADA insisted the case had never been closed.

Thorpe said he was in complete shock when told of the report yesterday.

"I was physically shaking in my room yesterday," he said. "It is gut wrenching, it really is."

Thorpe said he was alarmed that news of his adverse analysis had been leaked and his name tarnished.

"I am deeply alarmed that the test was leaked to the press. It jeopardises the whole integrity of the testing procedure and it is a serious breach of what we all sign up for," he said.

"I have been deprived of this privacy protection and I can only speculate to the motives."

Thorpe, who was joined at the media conference by his lawyer Tony O'Reilly, said he was considering legal action.

"There are two aspects to this. Firstly, the test itself and the legalities regarding my privacy and reputation," he said.

"I have never been notified of anything like this and the media interest in this is huge and it's hard to deal with."

Thorpe, who dominated world swimming for eight years, said his reputation had been hurt and it was important now to get the facts out in the public domain.

"I was always remembered as a hero to a lot of people when I was swimming and I want it to remain," he said.

"I am confident that the image of me will remain in people's minds, but this is a pretty serious business with scientists and medical people involved and there is a process for this to go through.

"But I am shocked how long all this has taken."

Thorpe said his doctor would provide more information to ASADA and he was confident that medical and scientific evidence would prove he was clean.

-AFP/Reuters

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