Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell, two of the four fastest men in history, sent shock waves through the blue riband 100m on Sunday when both men failed drug tests.
Gay, the 30-year-old American who was world champion in 2007 and the fastest man in the world this year, tested positive for a banned substance and immediately withdrew from next month’s world championships in Moscow.
Jamaican sprint star Powell, a former 100m world-record holder, confirmed that he had tested positive for a banned stimulant at his country’s national trials for Moscow, but the 30-year-old strenuously denied any wrongdoing.
Only Olympic champion and world record holder Usain Bolt (9.58 seconds) has gone faster than Gay, whose best of 9.69 seconds he shares with Yohan Blake of Jamaica. Powell is the fourth fastest man of all time with 9.72 seconds.
Gay was informed by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) on Friday of his failed test and on Sunday USA Track & Field (USATF) said he had pulled out of the world championships.
“He stated he is withdrawing,” USATF spokesperson Jill Geer said.
The USADA said on Sunday that the 30-year-old’s B sample has yet to be tested, so it would not confirm or deny the failed test.
“In response to Mr Gay’s statements, USADA appreciates his approach to handling this situation and his choice to voluntarily remove himself from competition while the full facts surrounding his test are evaluated,” USADA media relations manager Annie Skinner said. “The B sample will be processed shortly and as in all cases, all athletes are innocent unless or until proven otherwise through the established legal process, and any attempt to sensationalize or speculate is a disservice to due process, fair play and to those who love clean sport.”
Gay told US media he had made a mistake and been let down by someone else.
The USATF said it would continue to look to the USADA to help it weed out drug cheats in the sport.
“USA Track & Field is strongly opposed to doping and we respect the work that USADA has done as a leading agency globally in the fight against drugs in sport,” USATF chief executive Max Siegel said.
Gay had run the fastest time in the world this year in the US trials for the world championships in Iowa last month. His 9.75 seconds was the 10th fastest 100m of all time.
World record holder Bolt’s best time over 100m this season is 9.94 seconds set in Kingston last month.
Gay won the triple of 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay in Osaka, Japan, at the 2007 world championships, while also claiming a 4x100m silver medal at the London Olympics last year.
Powell, also 30, took to Twitter to confirm his dope test failure.
“I will confirm that a sample I gave at the National Trials in June has returned ‘adverse findings,’” he said. “The substance oxilofrine was found, which is considered by the authorities to be a banned stimulant. I want to be clear that I have never knowingly or willfully taken any supplements or substances that break any rules. I am not now nor have I ever been a cheat.”
Powell held the 100m world record between June 2005 and May 2008.
He won two bronze medals in the 100m at the 2007 and 2009 world championships. He also won a gold in the 4x100m relay in 2009.
However, he has never managed an individual sprint medal at the Olympics, finishing fifth in the 2004 Athens Games and the 2008 Beijing 100m finals, before limping home in eighth place in the final in London last summer.
According to media reports, Powell was one of five athletes who failed drug tests at the national trials last month in Kingston.
Sherone Simpson, a silver medalist in the women’s 100m at the 2008 Olympics, was one of them, according to a report in Britain’s Daily Telegraph.
The Jamaica Gleaner newspaper claimed the substance taken may have been contained in a food supplement.
“My team and I will try to do everything we can to get this issue dealt with as best as we can,” Simpson told the Gleaner. “Thanks to all who have been supporting me, I really appreciate it at this time.”
Later on Sunday, Powell’s agent, Tara Playfair-Scott, revealed on Twitter that a man who allegedly supplied the supplements had been arrested in Italy.
“He has been detained by Italian law enforcement in conjunction with this matter. The investigations continue,” she wrote.