Two of world’s leading sprinters Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell fail doping tests
Usain Bolt’s Irish agent, Ricky Simms, quickly dismisses such fears for his athlete
The athletic world has been rocked by the news of Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell (above) and American Tyson Gay both failing doping tests.
By Ian O’Riordan
Now more than ever the reputations of some of the so-called Fastest Men on Earth are in ruins – and the damage this time might just prove irreparable.
Confirmation that two of the leading towers in world sprinting – the American Tyson Gay and the Jamaican Asafa Powell – have both failed doping tests, one month before the World Championships begin in Moscow, has been greeted with the same shock and disgrace that followed Ben Johnson’s positive test two days after the Canadian won the 100 metres at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, now dubbed The Dirtiest in History.
The timing of Gay’s and Powell’s doping offences may be coincidental although not necessarily unrelated, as the IAAF – the governing body of the sport – has upped its target testing in recent months, with even broader scandalous findings in Turkey just last week, returning a reported 30 positive samples.
Both athletes have confirmed the positive findings, although with a differing sense of responsibility: Gay, the 2007 world champion, has said he was notified by the US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) last Friday that his A-sample from an out-of-competition test in May had returned a positive.
Powell’s name emerged as one of five Jamaican athletes – two in field events and three sprinters – who returned adverse findings following the tests conducted at their National Trials, staged in Kingston from June 20th-23rd.
That immediately prompted speculation concerning world record holder and double-double Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt, who also competed in the Trials. However, his Irish agent, Ricky Simms, quickly dismissed any such fears for his athlete.
“I was just with him (Usain) in Jamaica and we’ve had no information and we’ve not been contacted by anyone,” Simms told BBC5 Live. “It is not anyone that I’m connected with.”
Indeed Powell does train completely separate from Bolt, under a different coach, and yet it marks another high-profile bust for a Jamiacan sprinter following the news last month that former Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown also tested positive for a banned diuretic. Another of the sprinters busted from the last month’s Trials was Sherone Simpson, who won Olympic gold in the women’s 400 relay in 2004 and silver in 2012.
Campbell-Brown was a former training partner of Gay, who last month won the US Trials in a 2013 world-leading 9.75 seconds, and was running into the best form of his career, despite recently turning 30.
“I don’t have a sabotage story,” said Gay, speaking at a teleconference from his European training base in Amsterdam. “I don’t have lies. I basically put my trust in someone and I was let down. I made a mistake. It has been tough for me. I have always been a drug-free athlete.
“I know exactly what went on, but I can’t discuss it right now. I hope I am able to run again. But I will take whatever punishment I get like a man.”
Gay’s positive test will no doubt come as a major shock to Irish Paralympics champion Jason Smyth, who has spent the last number of winters at Gay’s training base in Clermont, Florida. Gay remains the second fastest 100m runner of all-time, behind Bolt. Powell, also 30, is currently managed by Paul Doyle’s Atlanta-based agency.
However, Powell is suggesting his positive test might be explained by a contaminated food supplement.
“I will confirm that a sample I gave at the National Trials in June has returned ‘adverse findings’,” said the 30-year-old Powell in a statement released. “The substance oxilofrine was found, which is considered by the authorities to be a banned stimulant. I want to be clear . . . that I have never knowingly or wilfully taken any supplements or substances that break any rules. I am not now nor have I ever been a cheat.”