Sport: Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell test positive for banned substances. Can sport ever be free of doping?

Originally published by, Monday 15th July, 2013. To read the original, please click here

American 100m champion Tyson Gay and Jamaican Asafa Powell both tested positive for banned substances in out-of-competition testing.

TYSON GAY AND ASAFA POWELL test positive for banned substances. Can any sport ever be free of doping?

The news that American 100m sprinter Tyson Gay and Jamaican 100m sprinter Asafa Powell – two of the fastest men on earth – are among those who have tested positive for banned substances in recent out-of-competition drug tests, makes one wonder if any sport can ever be rid of doping.

In what is the latest doping scandal to rock the world of sport, 30-year-old Gay was informed by USADA (US Anti- Doping Agency) on Friday that his A sample, taken last May, tested positive. Powell, meanwhile, tested positive at June’s Jamaican Championships for oxilofrine, a banned stimulant for which fellow Jamaican Sherone Simpson also tested positive. Usain Bolt, however, is clean – a fact confirmed by Bolt’s agent – Donegal man Ricky Simms – in an interview, this morning, on BBC 5 Live.

In a statement, Powell has claimed that he had “…never knowingly or wilfully taken any supplements or substances that break any rules,” and asserted that he is “…not now – nor have I ever been – a cheat”.

Gay, currently the fastest man in 2013, is awaiting results of his B sample and has already withdrawn from next month’s World Championships in Moscow.

“I don’t have a sabotage story…I basically put my trust in someone and was let down,” he said. “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.”

USADA responded to the scandal by releasing a statement that read: “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. 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.”

Crusades against doping in sport have, in recent years, focused almost exclusively on cycling and justly so; cycling, as we all now know, has been riddled with doping. However, the spotlight seemed to have shifted away from other sports where doping is just as endemic. True, athletics has come a long way from the 1988 Seoul Olympics, where the 100m event was won by Ben Johnson, who later tested positive along with other athletes in the event, and which was the subject of Richard Moore’s book The Dirtiest Race in History.

Gay and Powell’s futures in the sport are, as of yet, unclear, though one wonders if the relevant disciplinary bodies will deliver a punishment that rids the sport of doping. Should life bans be served to athletes who test positive for any banned substances, under any circumstances, to rid all sport of doping, once and for all?





Sport: Five Injuries That Really Shook Sport

Originally published by, Thursday 27h June, 2013. To read the original, please click here

Lions captain Brian O’Driscoll twisting and writhing in pain after the notorious spear tackle inflicted upon him in New Zealand in 2005

IT’S BEEN AN EVENTFUL WEEK  for the doctors, physiotherapists and general medical backroom staff working in sport, this week. Not only did Victoria Azarenka slip and experience a nasty fall that pulled a few muscles in her legs, she emitted a scream that, no doubt, was heard as far away as remote parts of Mongolia.

The Lions, too, suffered a huge setback this week with 33- year- old Paul O’Connell snapping his right forearm, which brought his Lions tour to an end. The Limerick man is set to stay on with the panel, working in an unofficial coaching capacity.

Here, I look at other sports people whose injuries irreparably changed the their careers.

1. Michael Owen

Charismatic and with no shortage of pace in his legs, recently retired striker Michael Owen electrified the England football team during 1998’s World Cup campaign, netting important goals that reminded many a BBC pundit of English legend Gary Lineker at his peak. Owen’s career would never fully recover from a hamstring injury that Owen sustained at a match against Leeds during his days at Liverpool and his career was plagued by recurring injuries.

2. Brian O’Driscoll

It’s hard not to think of Paul O’Connell’s recent injury on the Lions tour and not think of the horrific injury endured by BOD. The spear tackle executed on O’Driscoll during the 2005 Lions match with New Zealand must be one of the worst incidents ever recorded in the game. Forever a talking point among supporters and pundits, it’s an incident in O’Driscoll’s illustrious career which the star centre refuses to speak about.

3. Sonia O’Sullivan

The nation held its breath when Sonia O’Sullivan lined up in the women’s 5,000m final at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Though O’Sullivan’s injury relates to a stomach upset, which she claims disrupted her performance, one suspects O’Sullvan completely lost all focus and nerves seemed to have affected the Cork legend’s performance, more than anything. Like all true champions, she would later stage a comeback in 1998 at the European Athletics Championships in Budapest.

4. Dean Ashton

While on International duties with the England football team, former West Ham United centre forward Dean Ashton suffered a tackle from Shaun- Wright Phillips in training that shattered his left ankle in an injury that would prematurely end his football career at the age of 26.

5. Monica Seles

Easily one of the most shocking injuries to be inflicted on anyone on or off the field of play, the 1993 stabbing of Monica Seles by obsessed Steffi Graf fan Günter Parche sent shockwaves throughout the world of sport. Traumatised by the incident, Seles- who was enjoying the greatest successes of her playing career- stepped away from competitive tennis for two years.