Jul 17, 2013 Sports
Daily Mail – In the University Hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland — a couple of miles from the International Olympic Committee’s glass-fronted headquarters — there are 5,000 blood and urine samples from the London Olympics. And it is to that storage room which the latest dark story in the drug-smirched world of athletics could lead.
For Sportsmail can reveal the IOC are watching the fallout from the raft of recent positive doping tests, most damagingly involving two of history’s fastest men, Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell, with an eye on re-examining their chilled cavern of samples.
‘If the evidence is there, we could re-test at any time, particularly if new methods of detection come to light or if we discover new drugs are being used,’ confirmed IOC spokesman Mark Adams yesterday. ‘We are watching developments closely and this could lead to re-opening the London samples.’
The implications for last summer’s Games are potentially far-reaching: tests were mandatory for the top five in every track-and-field event and another two finalists were tested randomly.
However, the IOC will not act precipitately because they can hold the samples for eight years and will try to balance the desire for the swiftest possible action against the need to let science develop to catch up with as yet undiscoverable drugs. The IOC have already successfully re-tested samples from the 2004 and 2006 summer and winter Olympics in Athens and Turin.
The credibility of athletics is under serious scrutiny heading into next month’s World Championships in Russia, a country reeling from drug abuses.
But Lord Coe, double Olympic champion and architect of London 2012, said: ‘We do not know the pathology in these particular cases but the broader message is simple: abnormalities will be found out. There is no ambiguity about that. We will get rid of the cheats.
‘Has today been nice? No, but I would rather this than to look back in 10 years and wonder why we did not have a system to root this out.’
While Gay and Powell have attracted the starkest headlines, about 25 Turkish athletes, including 1500 metres champion Cakir Alptekin, have tested positive for doping this summer. Along with the Russian dopers, 12 Jamaicans (including Powell) have failed tests or been banned since 2008.
Among the ‘fakers’ dozen’ from Jamaica is Veronica Campbell-Brown, holder of 18 world and Olympic medals, who tested positive for a diuretic that can act as a masking agent for performance-enhancing drugs. Her fall from grace was felt especially hard on her home island, where she was venerated as their most saintly sporting figure.
Gay, who is American, has admitted his guilt but not disclosed the substance involved, while Powell has revealed he tested positive for oxilofrine but insists he has ‘never knowingly or wilfully taken any substances that break any rules’. Four other Jamaicans, including Sherone Simpson, the 4x100m relay gold medallist from 2004, were also implicated.
While the results of B samples are awaited, the Italian police provided a dramatic twist on Sunday by raiding Powell’s hotel room in north-east Italy, where he and other Jamaican athletes have been training.
They found about 50 boxes and vials containing medicine and pills. According to reports, police were ‘surprised’ by the quantity of drugs because it was ‘disproportionate’ to the needs of one athlete. The drugs have been sent for identification.
The World Anti-Doping Agency asked for police help, hoping any haul might act as a smoking gun that will take them closer to the heart of the Jamaican drug menace.
Suspicion naturally falls on Usain Bolt, the icon whose demise would be a mortal blow to his sport. However, Bolt, who has never failed a test, is not part of Powell’s MVP training group, coached by Stephen Francis, but of the island’s other elite squad, the Racers Track Club.
Gay’s guilt is dismaying enough, not least given his reputation as strongly anti-drugs. Five years ago, he said: ‘I complete clean because I believe in fairness and, besides that, my mom would kill me.’ When Sportsmail visited him in Clermont, a sleepy town in Florida, in 2011 he spoke of the strong Baptist faith inculcated by his ‘mom’ Daisy. He said that at 28 he had never so much as sipped a beer.
Gay, now 30 like Powell, denounced Justin Gatlin when he returned from a drugs ban to deny his fellow American a bronze medal in the 100m at last summer’s Olympics, saying: ‘Everybody knows my stance on drugs. I work real hard so I don’t want to be cheated out of nothing. Nobody does.’
Of Campbell-Brown, with whom he went to school at Barton County Community College and University of Arkansas, he said: ‘We’re all accountable for what goes in our system but mistakes do happen.’
Gay, who was yesterday suspended as an ambassador by adidas, has only half accepted responsibility for his lapse. He said he would take his punishment ‘like a man’ but added: ‘I put my faith in someone and I was let down.’
Who that someone is he has not said.Gay is now back with Lance Brauman, the coach he stood by despite Brauman’s one-year imprisonment for fraud, theft and embezzlement in 2007, having recently cut all ties with former Olympic silver medallist sprinter Jon Drummond.
Brauman was in Amsterdam with Gay when he learned of his failed test.
‘The news has shaken me and my entire group,’ said the coach. ‘We do not support or encourage or tolerate the use of performance-enhancing drugs whether it was on purpose or not.’ Campbell-Brown was also once part of Brauman’s squad but is thought to have been unattached to a permanent coach at the time of her positive test.
Gay’s excuse was given short shrift by Iwan Thomas, Britain’s 1997 relay world champion, who said: ‘I don’t know if he’s implying his coach or someone told him to take a supplement. If so, that’s just ignorant. You can’t put something into your body and then blame somebody else.’
Amazingly, some believe it is time for doping rules to be relaxed. Doug Logan, the former chief executive of USA Track and Field, said: ‘Laws that can’t be enforced shouldn’t be on the books.’ There are certainly shortcomings with WADA — even their chief executive David Howman admitted a couple of years ago that they were largely only catching the ‘dopey dopers’ — but thankfully there is no mood among wider officialdom to bow to Logan’s law of the jungle.
The IOC will instead strip Olympic medals from those they can prove cheated their way on to the podium — and that might impinge on Bolt, who shared in his country’s 4x100m relay success in London if, as expected, his team-mate Nesta Carter is confirmed in the next 24 hours as one of Jamaican’s five offenders.
Powell, Gay and Bolt were once called sprinting’s Holy Trinity. Only the Father, Bolt, remains untarnished.
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