Former 100-metre world-record holder Asafa Powell,Jamaican teammate Sherone Simpson and their physical trainer were formally placed under criminal investigation for allegedly violating Italys doping laws,police said Tuesday.
The move came a day after Italian police confiscated unidentified substances in a raid on the hotel where the trio was staying in the northeastern town of Lignano Sabbiadoro after the athletes tested positive for banned stimulants.
The trainer is Christopher Xuereb of Canada.
Udine prosecutors believe the trio violated Article 9 of the doping laws,which calls for punishment for whoever administers or consumes banned substances.
Police were still analysing the substances seized to determine if they were legal or not.
Being formally placed under investigation is a step up in the Italian justice system from someone simply informed of the facts, which is how someone can be questioned by police. That occurred after the raid early Monday,when the trio was brought to a local police station.
Police said that the raids were executed following a tip from the World Anti-Doping Agency. Paul Doyle,the agent for the two sprinters,said they worked in conjunction with WADA on the raid after becoming suspicious that Xuereb,their newly hired trainer,might have given them supplements laced with a banned substance. Doyle also said that Powell and Simpson were aware of the impending raid,but Xuereb was kept out of the loop.
Asafa and Sherone have been tested more than 100 times each through their career … and never turned in a positive test, Doyle said. Now they change their supplements and the first time they get tested,they have a positive test? It has to be something in those new supplements that has caused it. Chris is the one that provided those.
Were not trying to throw Chris under the bus and blame him for anything. We know it has to be something in the supplements he gave them. Were not saying he did anything deliberate,but its in those supplements. We need to figure out what it was that caused this and from there move forward.
An email to Xuereb wasnt returned.
WADA director general David Howman likened this case to the doping scandal involving the Austrian cross country skiing and biathlon teams at the 2006 Turin Olympics,when Italian police raided athletes residences following a tip from WADA and the IOC.
Theres nothing new in relation to the way we operate, Howman added.
Doyle said Tuesday the athletes had left Lignano but declined to say where they went. A hotel receptionist said late Monday that Xuereb had checked out.
Powell and Simpson tested positive for the stimulant oxilofrine at the Jamaican championships last month,Doyle announced Sunday,and welcomed the investigation. The whole purpose of the raid was to see what products there were there and hopefull y find whatever it was that caused this positive test. Asafa and Sherone were under the assumption and led to believe everything they were taking was completely legal.
However,Doyle acknowledged that he and the athletes should have been more responsible about what supplements they used.
In hindsight,we shouldve been given a list,made sure we got a list, Doyle said. The extent of what I did,I said to (Xuereb) in a text message,that all supplements have to be cleared by me first. He never cleared them with me. He did send them in an invoice that had the names of supplements in there that he had purchased. But that was it. I didnt have the ingredient list.
Just looked at it this morning,19 different supplements (Powell) was given.
Tara Playfair-Scott,Powells publicist,said in a statement that the runner handed over to police one bottle of Aleve containing 50 capsules and one bottle of 5-hour Energy,berry flavored.
Doyle added that the athletes would ask for a backup B sample to be tested.
base camp in Lignano
Jamaican athletes have made Lignano their in-season training base for years. A local athletics meet was scheduled for later Tuesday in Lignano and Jamaicans had been scheduled to compete as they do most years. However,neither Powell nor Simpson was on start lists released Monday.
The news of the positive tests for Powell and Simpson came the same day that American 100-metre record holder Tyson Gay revealed that he also failed a doping test. Also,discus thrower Allison Randall acknowledged that she was one of the five Jamaican athletes who tested positive at the Jamaican championships last month,along with Powell and Simpson.
Randall holds the islands record for the discus throw and competed at the London Olympics. Her statement says she was shocked and surprised at the findings and hopes her backup sample will clear her name.
The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association issued a brief statement saying an anti-doping management process has started for the athletes. It did not identify the two other athletes who tested positive.
Powell was the last man to hold the 100-metre world record before Usain Bolt broke it in 2008. Simpson won Olympic gold in the womens 4×100 relay in 2004 and silver in 2012,along with an individual silver in the 100 in 2008.
The findings come a month after another Jamaican Olympic champion,Veronica Campbell-Brown,tested positive for a banned diuretic.
Coach defends tainted duo,says track record solid
The coach of Jamaican sprinters Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson said on Tuesday they were not to blame after the Olympic medallists failed dope tests.
It came as a big surprise,I think,to them, Stephen Francis said outside the Fra i Pini hotel which has long hosted training camps for Jamaicans and is adorned with the islands national flag and memorabilia.
Asafa has been somebody who doesnt use that kind of stuff. Over the 10 years I have coached him we have had great difficulty getting him to take basic stuff like protein,like vitamins, said Francis,who is the coach of Powell and Simpson at the MVP track and field club.
Former world 100 metres record-holder Powell and Olympic 4×100 metres relay silver medallist Simpson said this weekend they had tested positive for the banned stimulant oxilophine.
Francis criticised Xuereb. (Xuereb) kept to the outskirts of the training and he basically only dealt with Asafa. I tried to instruct others in the group that Look,I dont agree with this guy.
The Fra i Pini hotel said the athletes had left their rooms. Powell won a relay gold medal at the 2008 Olympics.
Discus thrower Allison Randall has become the third athlete to confirm a positive drugs test from the Jamaican trials in June.
She tested positive for a banned diuretic but,like Powell and Simpson,denied knowingly taking a performing-enhancing substance. Reuters