Fall-out continues for positive testers as Adidas suspend their deal with Tyson Gay
Gay’s training partner Jason Smyth ‘shocked’ as he ponders news ahead of upcoming IPC championships in Lyon
Asafa Powell (second from top) and Tyson Gay (third from top) in action in last year’s Olympic 100m final won by Usain Bolt (third from bottom). Photograph: getty images
The sudden fall from grace of two of the world’s fastest men continues as both Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell begin to feel the aftershocks of their doping revelations, while athletes with any association have hurriedly distanced themselves.
Among them is Irish Paralympics star Jason Smyth, who has spent the last four years training alongside Gay at his US base in Clermont, Florida, and only returned from his latest stint there last month: indeed Gay has often heaped praise on him in the past, last year describing Smyth as having a “better sprinting technique” than him.
“I just know as much information as everyone else on the matter, and I was absolutely shocked at what I read,” said Smyth, in an interview with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) website.
“It’s hard to know what’s going on with anybody else. However, there is only one person in the world who can be certain about anything and that is you, yourself.
“At the moment I’m trying to not get distracted by it as we’re five days away from a World Championships and so I’m trying to focus on that.”
The visually-impaired Smyth, who won double sprint gold at both the Beijing and London Paralympics, is now targeting similar success at the IPC World Athletics Championships, which get underway in Lyon, France this weekend.
Yet inevitably, the Gay and Powell revelations – and their apparent mishaps at either the hands of some previously trusted person or a tainted food supplement – have forced athletes such as Smyth to defend their own records, and the training methods they employ.
“You can only speculate about others,” said Smyth, “but for me personally, I am 100 per cent sure about every supplement I take.
“I think the big thing is you don’t take anything for granted, I would not trust anybody without knowing for sure myself. That is why I can be confident in what I’m doing.”
Smyth was one of the athletes not invited back to the London Olympic Stadium for the Anniversary Games, on the weekend after next, where Usain Bolt is set to be the headline act in the 100 metres more likely to be marked by some conspicuous absentees.
The 30-year-old Gay may have broken the mould in holding his hands up and effectively admitting his guilt even before his B-sample is analysed – declaring on Sunday night that “I don’t have a sabotage story” and “will take whatever punishment I get like a man” – but he’s already paying a price for that as his long-term and lucrative shoe contract with Adidas was suspended yesterday .
Indeed Adidas broke the mould there too as in the in past other sportswear brands have been slow to make such swiftly condemning statements:
“Adidas and Tyson Gay have been partners since 2005 and during this time he has been a great ambassador for the sport of track and field and our brand,” the company said in a statement.
“We are shocked by these recent allegations, and even if we presume his innocence until proven otherwise, our contract with Tyson is currently suspended.
“Adidas has a clear policy on doping and drug use – each of the agreements with our athletes include a clear clause which states that the agreement shall be terminated by adidas if the athlete is found guilty of the possession or use of drugs or any other prohibited substance by the relevant governing sports body having jurisdiction over the athlete.”
In the meantime the investigation into Powell’s doping offence, one of five positive tests from last month’s Jamaican trials, also continues.
Powell, also 30, is managed by Paul Doyle’s Atlanta-based agency, and Doyle – as well as being married to former Irish sprinter Karen Shinkins – has also represented several Irish athletes in recent years.
Powell’s training group - known as Maximising Velocity and Power, or “MVP” - is currently based in Lignano, in north Italy. Yesterday, Italian police carried out an extensive search of the hotel where the athletes are staying, reportedly taking samples of several medicines found in the room of both Powell and Sherone Simpson, the fellow Jamaican sprinter also facing a doping offence from their Trials, as well as the room of their physical trainer, Canadian Christopher Xuereb.
Powell, the former 100 metres world record-holder, is suggesting his positive test can be explained by the stimulating substance oxilofrine (also known as methylsynephrine) which he claims may have been consumed through a food supplement. That, however, is unlikely to hold much sway with the IAAF, the governing body of the sport, and certainly doesn’t gain any sympathy from those athletes who have heard the supplement excuse so many times before.
“For any athlete, now, to blame it on a supplement is a total cope-out,” says David Gillick. “That doesn’t happen with the stuff you get from any reliable source.”