Joseph Schooling gets schooled for using cannabis, gets sporting privileges revoked: What we know so far

Photo: @elizabeth.licon / Joseph Schooling Facebook page
Photo: @elizabeth.licon / Joseph Schooling Facebook page

National swimmer Joseph Schooling has confessed to consuming cannabis while on a short-term disruption from his full-time National Service (NS) to train for the SEA Games in May. 

According to the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) Schooling tested negative for controlled drugs in his urine test, but still confessed to taking cannabis. 

The swimmer is currently serving NS after deferring from it since 2014 due to his sporting commitments.

As a result, MINDEF has issued Schooling a letter of warning and revoked his leave privileges to train or compete while still in NS. 

On top of that, Schooling has been put on a urine test regime for six months. Any Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel who tests positive while undergoing this regime is charged and sentenced accordingly.

Read also: ‘I’ll take some time to process everything’: Joseph Schooling on Olympic defeat

He said he is remorseful and in a statement on Instagram admits that it was “a moment of weakness” following a difficult time in his life. 

“I am sorry that my actions have caused hurt to everyone around me, especially to my family and the young fans who look up to me.

“I gave in to a moment of weakness after going through a very tough period of my life. I demonstrated bad judgement and I am sorry.

“I made a mistake and I’m responsible for what I’ve done. I will make amends and right what is wrong. I won’t let you down again.”

Photo: Joseph Schooling/Instagram


Buddy speaks up for him

Singapore’s national long distance runner and Schooling’s friend, Soh Rui Yong has stood up for Schooling in a Facebook post and urged others to do the same. 

“Many have had photos taken with Joseph in good times and basked in his limelight. I hope you will share your photos and support him now, as he bears the consequences for his mistake.

“Many politicians jumped on the bandwagon in 2016 to bask in the limelight within minutes of Joseph winning Olympic gold and bringing joy to our country. They are all very quiet now.

“I hope you will all speak up, support him, share your photos with him again, and show our people – you will stand with us in good times and bad!”

While Soh agreed that the use of cannabis in Singapore should remain illegal, he questioned why the drug laws have to restrict “people’s behaviour outside the borders of Singapore”.

Schooling’s fellow teammate Amanda Lim is also being investigated by Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) for the same offences. 

Both athletes have been issued a stern warning by CNB under the Misuse of Drugs Act. 


Singapore’s stance on cannabis 

In Singapore, cannabis is listed as a Class A controlled drug in the First Schedule of the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA). 

The CNB states that any Singapore citizen or permanent resident found to have abused controlled drugs overseas will be treated as if they had abused drugs in Singapore. 


How long does cannabis stay in your system?

Depending on how much you use it, cannabis can be detected in urine tests from three to 30 days. A single use can be detected up to three days after your last use while heavy use can be detected up to 30 days after your last use.


What happens next?

As Schooling will no longer be eligible for leave or disruption to train or compete while serving NS, he could miss key upcoming competitions. 

Though some have stated their surprise at his actions, there has also been a lot of sympathy for him.  

Comments from the online community range from urging others to understand what he was going through to criticising the entire process and blaming Singapore for not supporting local talents. 

RELATED – 49-year-old Singaporean man hanged for trafficking cannabis: activists

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