Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell and his team-mate Sherone Simpson are blaming their new physiotherapist after they tested positive for a banned stimulant, Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported on Tueday, quoting their manager Paul Doyle.
Both have blamed contaminated food supplements for their failed tests, which have cast a cloud over the build-up to the world championships in Moscow next month and put sprinting in the spotlight. American former world champion sprinter Tyson Gay is the other high-profile athlete to test positive.
The daily quoted Doyle as saying that Powell and Simpson had only recently begun working with Canadian physio Chris Xuereb at his base in northern Italy. Both tested positive for oxilofrine at the Jamaican championships last month.
Italian police have opened a doping investigation against Powell and Simpson, the country’s ANSA news agency said. The pair left the country after a police raid on their hotel. Xuereb, also under investigation, too has reportedly left Italy.
The prosecutor’s office in Udine is leading the investigation for suspected violation of a law that punishes the supply and ingestion of stimulants. Prosecutors also seized around 50 boxes, including creams, sprays and vials that were seized in a search of the rooms of Powell, Simpson and Xuereb in the night between Sunday and Monday.
“Asafa and Sherone have been working with WADA to arrange this police raid, so to speak,” Doyle was quoted as saying. “Once we knew of the positive test, we realised Asafa and Sherone were the only two athletes in the group who had been given new supplements by this phsyio.
“Asafa’s had probably 150 to 200 clear tests in the past. He starts working with a new physio who gives him new supplements and all of a sudden he has a positive test in his first test. There’s no other reason why he would have tested positive other than something being in the new supplements he’s been taking.
“So we immediately asked WADA to get the police there to go in and search everything in the physio’s possession as well.” Xuereb began treating Powell for a hamstring injury that flared up in March, according to Doyle. He added that Xuereb gave Powell 17 supplements, three of which were administered by injection, and all were legal.
Doyle also accepted that Powell had not informed his coach, Stephen Francis, about the supplements. Powell, a 4x100m relay gold medalist at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, is one of the four fastest men over 100m in history. Simpson, who won 100m silver in the Beijing Olympics, won gold for Jamaica in the 4x100m relay at Athens in 2004 and silver at London.