Track & Field: Credibility of doping fight aided by scandals

2013-07-16T00:00:00Z Track & Field: Credibility of doping fight aided by scandalsThe Associated Press The Associated Press
July 16, 2013 12:00 am  • 

LONDON - International officials are looking at the bright side of the latest doping scandals to jolt track and field.

The positive tests that nabbed top-name sprinters Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson are disappointing but also proof that global drug-testing efforts are working, the IOC and IAAF said Monday.

The cases, which were disclosed Sunday, come less than a month before the World Championships in Moscow and cast another drug shadow over what is considered the marquee sport of the Olympics.

"I am naturally disappointed, and I would like to reiterate our zero-tolerance policy against doping," IOC President Jacques Rogge said in a statement to The Associated Press. "Clearly, the fight against doping can never be totally won, but these cases do once again show the effectiveness of the strong, sophisticated and continually evolving battle against doping in sport being waged by the International Olympic Committee and its partners in the Olympic Movement."

Gay, the American-record holder in the 100 and the fastest man at the distance this year, said he tested positive for a banned substance in an out-of-competition doping control on May 16. He hasn't identified the substance and is awaiting the testing of his backup "B" sample.

Powell, the former world-record holder in the 100 and second-fastest man this year, tested positive for the stimulant oxilofrine at Jamaica's national championships last month. Jamaican teammate Simpson, a three-time Olympic medalist, tested positive for the same stimulant.

On Monday, Adidas suspended its sponsorship of Gay, who has endorsed the German shoe and sports manufacturer since 2005. The company invoked a clause in Gay's contract relating to doping.

"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 said in a statement.

Also Monday, Italian police confiscated unidentified substances in a raid on the hotel where Powell and Simpson were staying. Rooms of the athletes and physical trainer Christopher Xuereb of Canada were searched and drugs and supplements were seized, Udine police captain Antonio Pisapia told The Associated Press.

Pisapia said it was unclear if the substances were illegal, and that they were being analyzed.

"We are examining the substances now," Pisapia said. "No arrests have been made and nobody has been placed under investigation."

The raid took place at the Fra i Pini hotel in Lignano Sabbiadoro in northeastern Italy.

The doping positives come a month after another Jamaican Olympic champion, Veronica Campbell-Brown, tested positive for a banned diuretic.

IOC vice president Thomas Bach, who leads the committee's investigations into Olympic doping cases, said the latest news is "disappointing and encouraging at the same time."

"Should all the information be confirmed at the end of the day it would be a great disappointment that some athletes obviously haven't yet understood that there is zero tolerance in the fight against doping,'" the German said. "Catching the cheats is important but only a means to the end of protecting the clean athletes."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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