Olympic gold medalist Shawn Crawford was suspended for two years by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency on Thursday for not giving full information about his whereabouts for out-of-competition drug testing, although his coach said he retired after the trials last summer.
Bobby Kersee was caught off guard by the ban on Crawford, the 2004 Olympic 200-meter champion. At 35 years old, this suspension would all but end Crawford’s career, but Kersee insisted he has already stepped away.
"I don’t understand this. He hasn’t put on spikes all year," Kersee told The Associated Press in a phone interview. "I just don’t understand how this is allowed to happen? I think it’s wrong. Eventually, the truth has to come out.
"A person who hasn’t put on spikes all year, a married man trying to take care of his family and what does he get for the end of his career – a two-year ban? I don’t understand."
There is paperwork an athlete needs to fill out in order to officially retire and be removed from the out-of-competition testing pool. U.S. Track and Field spokesperson Jill Geer was checking to see if Crawford filed the necessary papers.
In a statement released Thursday, USADA announced that Crawford, of Culver City, Calif., had three "whereabouts failures" in 18 months. That can include failing to provide regular information about how to be found for tests "and/or failure to be available for testing due to inaccurate or incomplete information," USADA said.
"If they (drug testers) show up at my track looking for an athlete of mine and for some reason or another I gave them the day off – because maybe their foot was hurting – I can inform them, `Hey, someone is looking for you,’ and I’ll get them there," Kersee said. "But no one has come up to me and asked for a drug test for Shawn all year."
An email was sent to USADA. Crawford’s ban began Wednesday.
His last big meet was at the Olympic trials last June in Eugene, Ore., where he finished seventh and didn’t make the team for the London Games. His longtime agent, Kimberly Holland, tried to persuade him to keep sprinting, but his heart wasn’t into it.
"I thought he looked good and could continue on, but he said his body was not what it was as in his 20s," Holland said.
At the 2004 Athens Games, Crawford led the first medal sweep for American men in the 200 in 20 years. He finished fourth at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, only to be bumped up to the silver medal when Netherlands Antilles sprinter Churandy Martina and American Wallace Spearmon were disqualified for running outside their lanes.
But each time Crawford looked at the medal, he felt a twinge of guilt and so he decided to give it to Martina, who in his opinion beat him fair and square, even though the rules may have said differently.
"To read something of this magnitude, that his career ends with a red mark? We have to change that," Holland said. "It hurts to hear that his career would end in such a way when he’s contributed so much to the sport."