4 September, 2015. 14:18
HARRY JENKINS | Entertainment | Contact
LESS THAN A WEEK out from the series finale, information has gotten out that a contestant from Network Ten’s Great Australian Spelling Bee has tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug, Methylphenidate.
The contestant has been formally disqualified from the competition, however, the remaining pre-recorded episodes of the series will be screened as planned this coming week so as to keep the child’s identity unknown for privacy reasons.
The drug was detected after contestants were required to provide blood and urine samples at the conclusion of filming the series.
Shine Australia, the production company behind Great Australian Spelling Bee released a statement on their website stating that, “the actions of this contestant are reprehensible,”
“We at Shine Australia pride ourselves on our ability to deliver wholesome and moral content that can be enjoyed by the whole family, which is why we felt obligated to disqualify this contestant”
Methylphenidate, which is currently on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of prohibited drugs, is a stimulant (more commonly known as Ritalin) that can be used to increase brain function and aid in concentration, problem-solving, and enhanced memory. However, the drug is well-known for it’s behavioural benefits, especially it’s effectiveness in treating young males suffering from A.D.D (Absent Dad Disorder).
“This child isn’t using Methylphenidate for medicinal purposes. This is all about them getting an edge over my daughter,” said a mother of one of the offender’s fellow contestants.
“There is a fair bit of pressure on this kids to out-spell the other competitors,”
“I mean, we want our child to just have a fun time and do what they love doing, but at the end of the day, we want to be recognised as the parents of Australia’s best speller”
Another parent told us, “I’m really not surprised [the contestant] was popping pills, they seemed kind of strange from the start of the competition,”
“When [the contestant] first met Grant Denyer they shook his hand for a good 30 seconds before [the contestant] began hyperventilating. I just assumed that they were a big fan of him from Family Feud and got a little excited. Kids do when they meet obscure television personalities. But we obviously know now that that wasn’t exactly the case,”
The final episodes of Great Australian Spelling Bee air this coming Monday & Tuesday.