Sprinters refuse to talk doping
MONACO – Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica and American Carmelita Jeter walked out of a news conference yesterday after the sprinters were asked about the atmosphere on their teams following recent positive doping tests by Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell.
Jeter and Fraser-Pryce had requested not to be quizzed about doping a day before today’s Herculis meet in Monaco.
When they were, after a couple of benign questions, the two responded by abruptly getting up and leaving.
Gay, a 2007 triple world champion, pulled out of the Herculis meet and the World Championships in Moscow after being notified of a positive doping test by the United States Anti-Doping Agency earlier this month.
Powell, the former 100-metre world-record holder, and Sherone Simpson, a three-time Olympic medallist, tested positive for the stimulant oxilofrine at the Jamaican championships last month. Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown tested positive for a banned diuretic in May.
Australian hurdler Sally Pearson and American high jumper Brigetta Barrett and sprinter Justin Gatlin did not shy away from discussing the issue of doping yesterday.
Gatlin, a former Olympic and World Champion, was suspended for four years after testing positive for a banned substance in 2006.
“You have to make sure that you’re responsible for what’s going into your body and who’s around you,” he said.
“It’s just life. That’s one thing I learned when everything happened with me,” Gatlin added. “You got to deal with it. You got to move forward. The one thing I learned about track and field is: It’s not about what you say, it’s about what you do.”
Gay will turn 31 in August. If his “B” sample also tests positive, he could face a two-year ban and would struggle to be competitive again.
“Getting back in shape was really the toughest part,” Gatlin recalled. “I came back like 20 pounds overweight.”
Barrett, the Olympic silver medallist, clearly hadn’t expected the string of doping test announcements in recent weeks.
“You’re always shocked by the news when your ‘heroes’ have fallen,” Barrett said. “It does feel like a shock because I didn’t expect those people to have a positive test.
“As far as Tyson Gay is concerned, my heart and my prayers go out to him and anybody else having to deal with the consequences of a positive test result. And I can only pray that they could deal with it with grace and that other people can treat them accordingly.”
At today’s meet, Gatlin will face the new generation of Jamaican sprinters with Kemar Bailey-Cole and Nickel Ashmeade, who finished second and third behind Usain Bolt at their national trials.
Gatlin edged Bolt by 0.01 second in Rome last month and is the only sprinter to beat the six-time Olympic champion this season. (AP)