Celebrity Substance Abuse Drug Testing

Three of World’s Best Sprinters Fail Drug Tests

The sport of track and field has been unwavering in its battle against use of performance-enhancing drugs. Sunday’s news, however, struck a different tone, as three of the world’s best runners were found positive for drugs in their respective tests.

Photo credits from Flickr (L-R): Tab59, Jonas Witt, André Zehetbauer

Tyson Gay, Asafa Powell, and Sherone Simpson
Photo credits from Flickr (L-R): Tab59, Jonas Witt, André Zehetbauer

US sprinter Tyson Gay, who currently holds the American record for 100-meter dash, failed an out-of-competition drug testing conducted last May. In a news release, Gay claims to have “put my trust in someone and I was let down,” implying that he had no knowledge that a banned substance was introduced into his system.

The identity of the illegal substance has not yet been made known to the public by Gay or US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) chief Travis Tygart.

This seems like a big hurdle for Gay, who has been a transparent advocate against drug use in the sport. He has been active in USADA’s testing program “My Victory” to exemplify his clean living as an athlete, and so far he has not failed the tests — not until the most recent one. Because of his failure in the drug test, Gay has voluntarily withdrawn from the world championships.

Another 100-meter sprinter and former record holder Asafa Powell of Jamaica was found with oxilofrine in his system when he underwent a test for the national championships in Jamaica last June. Powell took to Twitter to defend himself: “I am not now – nor have I ever been – a cheat.” Fellow Jamaican runner Sherone Simpson tested positive for the same substance, and released a similar message saying that she “would not intentionally take an illegal substance of any form” into her own body.

Despite the grim situation, Powell sees the silver lining, saying that he “will come out stronger and wiser and better prepared to deal with the many twists and turns of being a professional athlete.”

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