Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell test positive to doping
World body insists every athlete caught is a victory as track superstars Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson all test positive
International athletics is in turmoil after some of the biggest names in sprinting returned positive doping tests, but the credibility of track and field's anti-doping programme has been "enhanced, not diminished", the IAAF insists.
Less than a month before the world championships in Moscow, American former world 100-metres champion Tyson Gay's positive test was followed by news that Jamaicans Asafa Powell, who held the world record in the 100m until Usain Bolt lowered it in 2008, and Olympic gold medallist Sherone Simpson also faced suspension after failing tests last month.
IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said the sport's governing body did not comment on pending cases, but added that the fight against doping "is enhanced, not diminished, each time we are able to uncover a new case".
"The IAAF's commitment to anti-doping in athletics is unwavering because we have an ethical obligation to the majority of athletes who believe in clean sport," Davies said. "The fact that we are able to detect and remove from the sport athletes who have breached our anti-doping rules should be seen in this context."
Powell, 30, called for an investigation into how a stimulant called oxilofrine entered his system. "I am not now - nor have I ever been - a cheat," Powell posted on Twitter.
Simpson, who tested positive for the same stimulant, said she "would not intentionally take an illegal substance of any form into my system".
Last night, 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, although it was unclear if the substances were illegal.
"We are examining the substances now," a police spokesman said. "No arrests have been made and nobody has been placed under investigation."
Jamaican newspaper The Gleaner reported that five athletes had tested positive. Paul Doyle, the agent who represents Powell and Simpson, confirmed his sprinters were among them. Last night, Olympic discus thrower Allison Randall became the third Jamaican athlete to confirm a positive drugs test, though she denied intentionally taking any banned substance
The managers for Bolt and world 100m champion Yohan Blake said their athletes were not involved.
The news came a month after another Jamaican Olympic gold medallist, Veronica Campbell-Brown, tested positive for a banned diuretic.
Neither Gay nor the United States Anti-Doping Agency revealed the banned substance at the centre of his positive sample. Gay said his "B" sample would be tested soon.
But one of his main sponsors, Adidas, has already suspended its support. "We are shocked by these recent allegations, and even if we presume his innocence until proven otherwise, our contract with Tyson is currently suspended," the sportswear giant said.
Doug Logan, the former chief executive of US Track and Field called it "a sad day" but added: "I don't see anything on the horizon that says this will be abated in any way."
Logan recently wrote a column arguing the fight against drugs in sports should be ceded because, in his view, anti-doping rules make little headway against a problem that never seems to disappear. "Over the course of time, culture has bred certain defences," Logan said. "The reality is, people are using substances to re-engineer their bodies or heal better. That's reality."
Associated Press, Reuters