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2020 Summer Olympics

‘Extremely evil’ drink spiking leaves top Japanese canoeist without a paddle at Tokyo 2020

Eight-year ban for Yasuhiro Suzuki after he drugged sprint rival in bid to boost his selection chances for host nation’s Olympic squad

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 January, 2018, 3:40pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 January, 2018, 3:40pm

Japan’s anti-doping body has banned a top canoeist for eight years after he spiked a rival’s drink with a banned substance to boost his own chances of selection for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The Japan Anti-Doping Agency slapped sprint canoeist Yasuhiro Suzuki, 32, with the eight-year ban, the Japan Canoe Federation announced on Tuesday, slamming his offence as “extremely evil”.

According to the federation, Suzuki confessed to putting a banned muscle-boosting substance into the drink bottle of rival Seiji Komatsu, 25, during a domestic competition in September.

“Suzuki’s conduct is totally contrary to the spirit of sporting fair play,” the Japan Canoe Federation said in a statement.

The canoe body said it will consider expelling Suzuki permanently as he has a history of sabotaging competitors, including by stealing their equipment.

Suzuki admitted spiking the drink after receiving an intensive anti-doping lecture during a training camp, according to the federation.

“I was fretting. I did it as I thought he would overwhelm me. I didn’t expect he’d actually test positive,” public broadcaster NHK quoted Suzuki as telling the federation.

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Komatsu won the race but was later provisionally suspended after he tested positive to the drug, which he strenuously denied using. His suspension has now been lifted.

Both Suzuki and Komatsu were among the top candidates to represent Japan at the forthcoming 2020 Olympics.