A dark day for track as sprinters Gay, Powell and Simpson test positive for banned substances

  • Article by: EDDIE PELLS , AP Sports Writers
  • Updated: July 14, 2013 - 10:25 PM
hide

Tyson Gay of the United States, right, reacts as he crosses the finish line as his compatriot Darvis Patton, left, follows after their 100 meter men race during at 2009 Shanghai Golden Grand Prix, an international field and track event, Sunday Sept. 20, 2009 at Shanghai Stadium in Shanghai, China. Gay won the competition with the time of 9.69 and Patton finished in third place.

Photo: Eugene Hoshiko, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The list reads like a Who's Who among the world's best sprinters:

Jamaican Asafa Powell, the former world-record holder at 100 meters.

American champion Tyson Gay, who went out of his way to promote himself as an anti-drug athlete.

Jamaican Sherone Simpson, who has a gold and two silver Olympic medals to her credit.

Word came Sunday that all three had failed drug tests. "A sad day," one former track official called it — and certainly a day that punctured the myth that the oft-troubled sport has cleaned up its act.

"I am not now — nor have I ever been — a cheat," Powell said in a message released through his Twitter account.

The 30-year-old Powell, whose 100-meter record of 9.74 stood until Usain Bolt beat it in 2008, was calling for an investigation as to how a stimulant called oxilofrine entered his system and caused a positive test at Jamaica's national championships in June.

Simpson, who tested positive for the same stimulant, said she "would not intentionally take an illegal substance of any form into my system."

Gay, the American-record holder in the 100, was more contrite, though he wasn't taking full responsibility.

"I don't have a sabotage story. I don't have any lies. I don't have anything to say to make this seem like it was a mistake or it was on USADA's hands, someone playing games," said Gay, who fought back sobs in a telephone interview. "I don't have any of those stories. I basically put my trust in someone and I was let down."

Gay, who won the 100 and 200 meters at U.S. nationals last month, said he would pull out of the world championships.

The 30-year-old, who won the world championship in the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay in 2007, took part in the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's "My Victory" program — in which athletes volunteer for enhanced testing to prove they're clean — and his results never raised red flags. Until, that is, an out-of-competition test May 16, where results came back positive for a banned substance, the identity of which neither he nor USADA CEO Travis Tygart would reveal.

Gay said his "B'' sample will be tested soon, possibly as early as this week.

Generally, first-time offenders are hit with two-year bans, though reduced penalties are sometimes given if there are extenuating circumstances, which both Gay and his coach, Lance Brauman, said there were.

"He mentioned that he (trusted) someone and that person was untrustworthy at the end the day," Brauman told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "Maybe I'm naive, but I believe him."

Max Siegel, the CEO of USA Track and Field, said in a statement: "It is not the news anyone wanted to hear, at any time, about any athlete." He said he looked to USADA to handle the case "appropriately."

Siegel's predecessor at USATF, Doug Logan, called it "a sad day."

"But I don't see anything on the horizon that says this will be abated in any way," Logan told AP.

The former CEO recently wrote a column arguing the fight against performance-enhancing drugs in sports should be ceded because, in his view, anti-doping rules make very little headway against a problem that never seems to disappear. He said he wasn't surprised when he heard about Sunday's onslaught of failed tests and didn't put much credence into the excuses and apologies from those who came up positive.

"Over the course of time, culture has bred certain defenses," Logan said. "The reality is, people are using substances to reengineer their bodies or heal better. That's reality."

Four-time Olympic medalist and sprint analyst Ato Boldon also called it a "difficult day because track and field fans are left not knowing what to believe."

"Everyone has that favorite, that one guy, 'Hey, this is the guy I've always been a supporter of his,'" Boldon said. "Asafa and Tyson are certainly two people who a lot of track fans have loved and admired for a long time. Unfortunately, they failed drug tests."

While Gay's case gets sorted out on U.S. turf, the positives recorded by Powell and Simpson are part of a bigger doping crisis hitting Jamaica, the home of Bolt and the country that has won 28 medals over the last three Olympics.

In Sunday's editions, The Gleaner newspaper of Jamaica reported that five athletes had tested positive. Paul Doyle, the agent who represents Powell and Simpson, confirmed to the AP that his sprinters were among them. Shortly after Doyle's confirmation, Powell and Simpson each released statements acknowledging the positive tests.

The news stirred up angst on the island, where success on the track is a point of pride but the rigor of the country's anti-doping program is under constant scrutiny.

"This does not auger well for track and field globally," said Rashalee Mitchell, a 29-year-old assistant social sciences lecturer at Jamaica's campus of the University of the West Indies. "It is fast serving to taint ... our proud and long-standing reputation of producing strong, excellent, raw, homegrown talent that has excelled on the world stage without any drug-related enhancement."

The news came a month after another Jamaican Olympic gold medalist, Veronica Campbell-Brown, tested positive for a banned diuretic.

Campbell-Brown is being suspended while a disciplinary panel reviews her case. Track's governing body said the case appeared to involve a "lesser" offense, which could mean a reduced sentence for the 200-meter champion at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.

Shortly after news of Campbell-Brown's positives, her agent, Claude Bryan, said his client is not a cheat and she does not accept "guilt of willfully taking a banned substance."

The known banned substances in these cases, a diuretic and a stimulant, don't resemble the steroids and designer drugs that took down some of the world's top athletes — Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery, Ben Johnson, to name a few — over the past years and decades. But many of the denials and claims of extenuating circumstances in the current cases carry a whiff of familiarity.

And once again, track is in the news for the wrong reasons, falling short of promises the sport's leaders make about cleaning things up every time the next cycle of doping stories hit.

"This result has left me completely devastated in many respects," said Powell, who didn't qualify for individual spots at worlds but could still make Jamaica's relay team if his positive test doesn't net a suspension. "I am reeling from this genuinely surprising result. I am confident, however, that I will come out stronger and wiser and better prepared to deal with the many twists and turns of being a professional athlete."

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Denver 28 FINAL
Cincinnati 37
Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Carolina 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Detroit 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Green Bay
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Denver 82 FINAL
Charlotte 110
Portland 95 FINAL
Houston 110
Utah 97 FINAL
Memphis 91
Toronto 120 FINAL
Chicago 129
Atlanta 105 FINAL
Dallas 102
LA Clippers 118 FINAL
San Antonio 125
Sacramento 74 3rd Qtr 1:12
Golden State 89
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Washington 2
Nashville 5 FINAL
Columbus 1
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL(SO)
Florida 4
Arizona 1 3rd Prd 9:32
Vancouver 7
San Jose 2 3rd Prd 8:34
Anaheim 1
Calgary 1 3rd Prd
Los Angeles 3
Ark-Little Rock 64 FINAL
Bradley 54
Brown 67 FINAL
Central Conn St 55
Stetson 59 FINAL
Florida State 63
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
Northwestern 63
Ohio 49 FINAL
George Washington 77
Southern Utah 61 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 70
Elon 67 FINAL
Kennesaw St 65
Dartmouth 49 FINAL
Penn State 69
Green Bay 70 FINAL
UC Irvine 72
DePaul 68 FINAL
Colorado 82
Lewis & Clark 49 FINAL
Portland 71
SC State 59 FINAL
Abilene Christian 65
Manhattan 71 FINAL
Fordham 57
Truett-McConnell 57 FINAL
Ga Southern 90
Citadel 56 FINAL
Michigan State 82
Miami-Ohio 55 FINAL
Ohio State 93
Gardner-Webb 89 FINAL
Purdue 84
Idaho 68 FINAL
Northern Ky 81
Fairfield 66 FINAL
Albany 77
North Dakota St 61 FINAL
Alcorn State 50
UT Martin 37 FINAL
Butler 64
SE Louisiana 65 FINAL
UCF 70
Oakland 60 FINAL
Clemson 70
Florida A&M 57 FINAL
East Carolina 75
Eastern Ky 66 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 69
IUPU-Ft Wayne 43 FINAL
Illinois State 68
Norfolk State 74 FINAL
James Madison 71
Binghamton 68 FINAL
Mount St Marys 69
Towson 56 FINAL
Navy 61
Long Island 73 FINAL
New Hampshire 72
Northern Ill 66 FINAL
Notre Dame 91
William & Mary 62 FINAL
Old Dominion 69
Liberty 47 FINAL
Princeton 65
Delaware 81 FINAL
Robert Morris 84
MD-Eastern Shore 82 FINAL
St Bonaventure 80
Colgate 43 FINAL
Syracuse 78
Kansas 52 FINAL
Temple 77
Mercer 54 FINAL
Tennessee 64
East Tenn St 60 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 84
Va Military 74 FINAL
Virginia Tech 87
Bucknell 53 FINAL
Wake Forest 60
Alabama A&M 62 FINAL
Western Mich 71
New Orleans 59 FINAL
Indiana 79
Columbia 65 FINAL
Connecticut 80
Long Beach State 49 FINAL
St Johns 66
Wofford 44 FINAL
West Virginia 77
Southern U 66 FINAL
Baylor 70
UAB 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 83
Char Southern 54 FINAL
Colorado State 75
North Florida 70 FINAL
Iowa 80
NC Central 67 FINAL
Jackson State 64
Rice 72 FINAL
Lamar 79
Central Mich 89 FINAL
McNeese State 56
Coppin State 56 FINAL
Michigan 72
Furman 76 FINAL
Minnesota 86
SE Missouri St 51 FINAL
Ole Miss 82
Weber State 51 FINAL
Oklahoma 85
Grambling St 39 FINAL
TCU 80
Loyola-Chicago 62 FINAL
Texas Tech 44
Incarnate Word 47 FINAL
Tulsa 76
Penn 50 FINAL
Vanderbilt 79
Chicago State 38 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 63
Simpson 62 FINAL
Drake 84
Tenn Tech 81 FINAL
UMKC 60
Murray State 83 FINAL
Southern Ill 71
Oral Roberts 45 FINAL
Missouri State 52
Jacksonville St 65 FINAL
Air Force 66
Milwaukee 54 FINAL
Arkansas 84
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
California 56
Coll of Charleston 47 FINAL
LSU 71
North Dakota 54 FINAL
Marquette 67
Northern New Mexico 39 FINAL
New Mexico St 78
UC Santa Barbara 78 FINAL
Oregon 82
Miami-Florida 62 FINAL
Providence 76
Northeastern 68 FINAL
St Marys-CA 72
Kent State 75 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 78
UC Davis 73 FINAL
Northern Colorado 63
Lewis-Clark State 81 FINAL
Eastern Wash 87
Walla Walla 52 FINAL
Portland State 94
TX A&M-CC 77 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 82
Marshall 55 FINAL
Nevada 83
Boise State 57 2nd Half 3:53
Houston 55
UC Riverside 14 2nd Half 16:58
San Diego St 27
Tulane 29 2nd Half 15:49
Washington 35
Loyola Marymount 25 2nd Half 17:16
Wichita State 45
Nebraska 12/23/14 12:00 AM
Hawaii
BYU 48 FINAL
Memphis 55
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
Holy Cross 78
Temple 59 FINAL
Villanova 64
Georgia Southern 68 FINAL
Southern U 52
Xavier 60 FINAL
Kennesaw St 61
Eastern Michigan 52 FINAL
Michigan 81
Brescia 56 FINAL
Marshall 127
(21) West Virginia 54 FINAL
Ohio State 96
UMBC 87 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 78
Cornell 79 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 61
St Bonaventure 70 FINAL
Georgetown 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Northeastern 62
Eastern Washington 67 FINAL
Florida 56
Rice 63 FINAL
Texas Southern 69
Butler 72 FINAL
Illinois State 60
UC Davis 59 FINAL
(16) Stanford 71
Washington St 87 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 60
Sacramento St 94 FINAL
San Jose St 97
SIU-Edwardsville 74 FINAL
UMKC 58
Oakland 92 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 84
Belmont 43 FINAL
(14) Georgia 62
George Mason 83 FINAL
Longwood 61
Kansas 81 FINAL
Creighton 84
Abilene Christian 53 FINAL
Kansas State 68
UT Martin 65 FINAL
Missouri 74
Hampton 67 FINAL
DePaul 86
Florida State 65 FINAL
Tulane 54
Murray State 44 FINAL
Illinois 64
Fla Gulf Coast 74 FINAL
Arkansas State 68
BYU 62 FINAL
Utah State 58

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Do you like the Twins' offseason moves so far?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close