Gay handed one year ban as US set to lose London 2012 Olympic relay medal

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By Nick Butler

Sprinter Tyson Gay has been handed a one-year ban by the United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA) after testing positive for anabolic steroids last June, while he has also returned the London 2012 4×100 metres relay silver medal he won as part of the American team.


Gay, the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay champion at the 2007 World Championships in Osaka and the second fastest 100m runner in history behind Usain Bolt, tested positive during the US National Championships shortly after winning 100m and 200m titles. 

The 31-year-old could have been handed a lengthier two year ban but was rewarded for cooperating and assisting with USADA throughout their investigation.

His ban has been backdated to June 23, 2013, the date on which the failed test took place.

This means he will be eligible for the US Championships from June 26 until 29 in Sacramento, although because he will have no qualifying mark, he would have to successfully launch a special appeal to be allowed to compete. 

Gay has also accepted the loss of all his results dating to July 15, 2012, when he first used a product that contained a banned substance, and this includes the London 2012 relay medal, where the US quartet finished behind Jamaica in a national record of 37.04 sec.

According to Rule 41 of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) Competition rules this would mean the entire US team, also consisting of Trell Kimmons, Justin Gatlin and Ryan Bailey, will be disqualified.

The rule states: “Where the athlete who has committed an anti-doping rule violation competed as a member of a relay team, the relay team shall be automatically disqualified from the event in question, with all resulting consequences for the relay team, including the forfeiture of all titles, awards, medals, points and prize money”.

The IAAF have confirmed that this should occur, while United States Olympic Committee (USOC) spokesperson Patrick Sandusky said in a statement that “the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the IAAF are the ruling authority on that decision, and we will obviously cooperate with them on this matter in the days ahead”.

A disqualification would move Trinidad and Tobago up to silver and France to bronze.

The US quartet are poised to lose the 4 x 100m relay silver medal they won in London ©Getty ImagesThe US quartet are poised to lose the 4 x 100m relay silver medal they won in London ©Getty Images

Gay’s failed test followed five injury ravaged seasons in which the American struggled to regain his position at the top of the sprinting hierarchy following the rise of Bolt.

He has always protested that he took banned substances inadvertently and that he does not “have a sabotage story” but “basically put his trust in someone and was let down”.

Until 2013, Gay had never been linked to doping suspicions and had even participated in USADA’s “My Victory” programme, in which athletes volunteer for enhanced testing to prove they are clean.

In a statement released after the ban USADA chief executive Travis Tygart praised Gay for cooperating with the inquiry.

“We appreciate Tyson doing the right thing by immediately withdrawing from competition once he was notified, accepting responsibility for his decisions, and fully and truthfully cooperating with us in our ongoing investigation into the circumstances surrounding his case,”  he said. 

USA Track and Field chief executive Max Siegel, meanwhile, claimed he “appreciates that Tyson accepted responsibility and has assisted USADA by providing information to help battle the use of performance enhancing drugs”.

But Siegel added that the organisation is “gravely disappointed any time an athlete uses performance-enhancing drugs, and Tyson Gay’s case serves as a lesson about the consequences of making poor decisions. 

The suspension handed to Gay follows an 18 month ban handed to two Jamaican sprinters, former world record holder Asafa Powell and Beijing 2008 100m silver medal winner Sherone Simpson, last month.

Both tested positive for banned stimulant oxilofrine, with the results announced on the same day as Gay’s failure emerged last year. 

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