IOC, IAAF look at bright side of new doping cases

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.

In recent years, the IOC and International Association of

Athletics Federations have focused on increased out-of-competition

testing and storage of samples for retesting and retroactive

sanctions. The IAAF and some other sports now use the blood

passport system, which monitors an athlete’s biological profile

over time for signs of cheating.

”While not perfect, the methods are ever improving, with blood

passports and the ability to test athletes 24/7 in and out of

competition proving to be effective in catching cheats and acting

as deterrents,” Rogge said. ”We also keep samples for eight years

now so that improvements in testing can catch cheats long after the

games are over.”

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.

”At the same time yesterday’s news is encouraging because it

proves that the system of testing is working and no cheat is on the

safe side. The fight against doping takes time and will never be

ending but we are fighting it with all the necessary

consequences.”

The IAAF, which carries out more tests than any other

international federation, also sought to emphasize the positive

from the latest body blow to the sport.

”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,” IAAF spokesman Nick Davies

said. ”It is for them that we have built a program that is well

resourced, far reaching and sophisticated

”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. The credibility of our anti-doping program, and the

sport of athletics, is enhanced, not diminished, each time we are

able to uncover a new case and we have the committed support of

every athlete, coach or official who believes in clean sport.”

The spate of high-profile drug cases has again focused attention

on the issue of doping sanctions.

A two-year ban is the standard penalty for a first serious

offense, though the punishment can be lighter for stimulants and in

cases where athletes can prove there was no intention to enhance

performance.

Under the proposed new World Anti-Doping Code, the standard

penalty will be doubled to four years, still short of the automatic

lifetime ban espoused by some officials.

AP Sports Writers Andrew Dampf in Rome and Rob Harris in London

contributed to this report.