Tyson Gay receives ONE YEAR doping ban…for ONE MONTH?

3 May

The news broke yesterday that former 100m & 200m Double World Champion, the joint 2nd fastest man in history, Tyson Gay, has received a reduced one-year doping ban, for testing positive for a banned anabolic steroid at the US World Championship Trials last year. In Track & Field, taking anabolic steroids to enhance performance is usually seen as a more serious offence than taking banned supplements, and normally attracts a minimum ban of 2 years, which is due to increase to 4 years as of 2015.

As such, the brevity of Gay’s ban will indeed surprise many Athletics observers around the world, many of whom may well have thought that Gay’s positive test, at the ‘ripe’ age of 30, and his subsequent suspension may well have signalled the end of his illustrious sprinting career. Instead, amazingly, Tyson Gay will be eligible to return to the track as early as next month, because his 1 year ban has been back-dated to 23rd June 2013, the date of his last positive test at the US Trials last year! It is said that Gay’s immediate co-operation with the US doping officials was a factor in the leniency of his ban – when the news of his positive tests broke, he was quoted as sayingI don’t have a sabotage story…I basically put my trust in someone and was let down. I know exactly what went on, but I can’t discuss it right now. I hope I am able to run again, but I will take whatever punishment I get like a man.”

It would seem that Gay was suggesting that he did not know that whatever he was taking was banned, but knew who gave it to him. Indeed, it was later reported that he had multiple positives over a short period of time last yearwhich was likely seen as a sign of that he wasn’t trying to hide anything, but simply didn’t know he was taking a banned drug. Despite his initial ignorance and subsequent co-operation, many will argue that the leniency of the ban will send the wrong message to Drug Cheats all over the world – simply plead ignorance, co-operate, and by the time your case is heard, you’ll be ready to compete again. Essentially, the length of his ban for taking anabolic steroids is akin to nothing more than one-season injury layoff, in terms of his time out on the sidelines. Is this the right signal to drug cheats, given that the same offence will attract a 4-year ban as of next year? 

Tyson Gay 1

 

Even Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson, Jamaican star athletes who last year tested positive for banned supplement Oxilofrine, last month received 18-month bans and will be eligible to compete again by the end of the year, though Powell has vowed to clear his name. If they got 18 months for a banned supplement, should Gay really have received just 1 year for an anabolic steroid, which it turns out that he may have been taking as far back as the London 2012 Olympics? Indeed, he has returned his Olympic 4x100m Silver Medal, as it has now been revealed that all his results since 15 July 2012, the date he first used a product containing a banned substance, have been annulled. Only time will tell if all USA’s 4x100m team will be stripped of that Silver medal, much like they were stripped of the 4x400m Gold at Sydney 2000, for which Nigeria was eventually awarded the GOLD medal after the late Antonio Pettigrew admitted to using banned substances during that period.

Considering that the next major competition for US athletes will be the World Championships in August 2015, an 18-month or 2-year ban will have still allowed him to return in time for that. One thing is for certain, despite being the fastest American in history, the rest of his career will likely be shrouded in skepticism by his positive drugs test and suspension, even if he is able to return to the dizzying speeds he once reached, and beat the likes of Usain Bolt again! THREE of Team USA’s current active sprinters, Justin Gatlin, Mike Rodgers and now Tyson Gay have now all received drug bans at some stage of their careers – despite Jamaica’s recent troubles, the Islanders look set to continue dominating the global sprinting landscape for some time to come!

That said, the fact that even the most high profile athletes are getting caught for drug offences, should hopefully convince other sprinting nations currently in the doldrums, such as Nigeria, that the playing field has been levelled significantly, and that we can compete with the world’s best if we want to. Can Team Naija return to winning ways at the highest level of sprinting? Follow @makingofchamps on Instagram and Twitter, and like Facebook.com/makingofchamps to be part of #LetsMakeChamps, the exciting new Social Media Campaign for MAKING OF CHAMPIONS, Nigeria’s new Olympic movement to create Champions in Track & Field!

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