Sprinter Tyson Gay accepted a one-year suspension on Friday after testing positive for a banned substance nearly a year ago and returned the silver medal he won in the men’s 400m relay at the 2012 London Olympics.
The US Anti-Doping Agency announced that Gay’s one-year ban began on June 23 last year, the day his sample was collected at the US championships. His sanction is subject to appeal by International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) and by the World Anti-Doping Agency, USADA said on Friday.
As part of the penalty, Gay, the US record-holder in the 100m, also accepted loss of results dating to July 15, 2012, the date of when he first used a product that contained a banned substance. He was a member of the relay team at the London Games that finished second to a Jamaican team anchored by Usain Bolt. The Americans set a national record with a time of 37.04 seconds. Gay has given his medal back to the US Olympic Committee.
USADA said in a statement that upon receiving notification of his positive tests, Gay voluntarily withdrew from all competition prior to last year’s world championships in Moscow and has not competed since.
The 31-year-old Gay could have been given a penalty twice as long, but received consideration after assisting USADA in the investigation into his positive test. USADA said he tested positive for the presence of an exogenous androgenic anabolic steroid.
“We appreciate Tyson doing the right thing by immediately withdrawing from competition once he was notified, accepting responsibility for his decisions, and fully and truthfully cooperating with us in our ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding his case,” USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said in a statement.
Gay was at the top of his game at the 2007 world championships in Osaka, Japan, capturing gold in the 100m, 200m and 400m relay. That was just before the emergence of Bolt, who has dominated the sprint scene ever since.
Meanwhile, Gay has dealt with one injury after another, including strained groins, hamstring tightness and hip surgery. He set the US 100m record in 2009 when he finished in 9.69 seconds. Bolt has the world record at 9.58.
Before last season, Gay’s test results never raised any red flags. He even took part in USADA’s “My Victory” program — in which athletes volunteer for enhanced testing to prove they are clean.
He tested positive out of competition in May last year. A month later, Gay recorded a positive at the US championships, where he won the 100m and 200m, and was notified. He surrendered his spot at worlds.
Gay said at the time: “I don’t have a sabotage story. I don’t have any lies. I don’t have anything to say to make this seem like it was a mistake or it was on USADA’s hands, someone playing games.”
In a statement released by USA Track and Field, CEO Max Siegel said the organization is “gravely disappointed any time an athlete uses performance-enhancing drugs, and Tyson Gay’s case serves as a lesson about the consequences of making poor decisions. We appreciate that Tyson accepted responsibility and has assisted USADA by providing information to help battle the use of PEDs.”
There are no major international meets in track this summer, but US championships will be held from June 26 to 29 in Sacramento, California. And while Gay could become eligible for that meet, the disqualification of his results dating to 2012 has taken away his qualifying time for the meet. He could petition the track and field committee for consideration, but USATF has said it has not received such a petition yet.