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
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
”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
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
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
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
”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
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
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.