Doping in sports – “Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell – Drugs cheats or unfortunate accidents?

Doping is the use of banned drugs that help in enhancing one’s performance in sports. The use of these performance-enhancing drugs is opposed by majority of the international sports organizations including the International Olympic Committee. Doping remains a serious issue mainly because it not only threatens the integrity of the sport, but also puts up an athlete’s health at serious risk. Doping further opposes the fundamental ‘spirit of sports’ which voices out loud against cheating. The use of doping is ‘cheating’, because it is an added advantage for the athlete who has used the artificial enhancement over the one who has played a fair game. The consequences of doping are serious both professionally and health-wise. It is not only limited to the top athletes, but it also affects the upcoming and aspiring athletes who are influenced by what they do and look up to them.

The latest doping controversy

In the recent headlines, the issue of doping in sports has come up again when the world’s current fastest runner for 2013 ‘Tyson Gay’ and the third quickest 100m runner ‘Asafa Powell’ tested positive for the use of banned substance in the drug test. This revelation came in on the same day, which disappointed the ardent fans of sports. Although both the athletes have claimed that they are not cheats, they both know the rules well that this is no excuse under the ‘athletics strict liability laws’. No one can predict about what is going to happen in the near future, but in the minds of the public, they add on to the long list of their predecessors like Justin Gatlin and Marion Jones.

Powell tested positive in June at their National Championship. He was one among the five Jamaicans who failed the drug test. Another athlete who tested positive along with Powell was the Olympic silver medallist (4x100m relay) Sherone Simpson. The banned amphetamine oxilophrine was found to contain in the samples of both. Oxilophrine has similar properties to ephedrine, although it has a different chemical structure, and both are on the World Anti-Doping Agency banned list.

“I have never knowingly or wilfully taken any supplements or substances that break any rules. My attitude towards doping regulations and testing is well-known and I willingly give samples whenever requested. This result has left me completely devastated in many respects,” said Powell in a statement. It was further revealed last week that a member from Powell’s support staff had been arrested and the materials related to the investigation were seized.

Tyson Gay, who set the American record of 9.69 seconds in 2009, leading him to become the second fastest runner of all times, tested positive on the 16th of May. The substance however, is unnamed. He insisted that it was actually a “type of accident”; also hinting that it was a friend who let him down.

Tyson Gay had been struggling since 2009 with injuries in this hip and groin. He had to undergo a surgery for his hip injury. However this season he came back with 9.75 seconds this season after an injury-free winter. He also won the 100m and 200m trials at the US Championship.

What now?

This news states the fact that both the athletes are now out of the World Championship being held in Moscow next month. Whatever trusts that had been built in sports since the last scandal has been lost even if it’s a small amount. The 100m losing its lustre is certain now.

Gay, who was a part of the programme called ‘My Victory’ where the athletes pledge to stay clean, has stated that he is ready to take any punishment he gets. He has voluntarily removed himself from the competition while the evaluation of full facts surrounding his test is going on.

The news of Powell testing positive in the drug test however brings along with it the surprise of many in athletics. This is because the Jamaican has been quite vocal over many years in his anti-drugs stance. He maintained that he had “never knowingly or wilfully taken any supplements or substances that break any rules” and that an investigation would be launched by his team.

“I am not now – nor have I ever been – a cheat,” he said. “My team has launched an internal investigation and we are co-operating with the relevant agencies and law enforcement authorities to discover how the substance got in my system.

“I assure you we will find out how this substance passed our rigorous internal checks and balances and design systems to make sure it never happens again,” he added. “My attitude towards doping regulations and testing is well-known and I willingly give samples whenever requested. This result has left me completely devastated in many respects. Professionally, this finding fully negates any possibility of me being a part of Jamaica’s contingent of athletes competing at the world championships in Moscow later this summer.”

The British Championship in Birmingham met the news of the top two athletes failing the drug test with disappointment. Former world record holder in 110m hurdles Colin Jackson agreed that it would have a colossal effect on the sport.

The only thing that looks positive now after the scandal is the position of James Dasaolu, a British 100m sprinter. He ran 9.91 seconds in the 100m at the UK trials last Saturday. This record holds up to being the second fastest 100m of any athlete competing at the World Championships in Moscow. He now is a genuine contender for the medal.

Neil Black, the performance director of UK athletics has stated that he will intensify his exertions to make sure that the British athletes would not be caught taking substances which may contain any banned substance.


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