News Conference Walkout After Doping Questions

On Thursday, Carmelita Jeter of the United States and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica walked out of a news conference after they were asked about the environment in their teams after the recent failed doping tests for Tyson Gay and Asafa Powell. The sprinters had requested not to be quizzed about doping but abruptly get up and left after they were asked about doping.

Powell, the former 100-meter record holder, and Gay, who won the 100 and 200 meters in the U.S. trials last month, were notified of a positive doping test by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) earlier this month. Tyson Gay may face a ban of two years if his ‘B’ sample also proves positive.

Powell and Sherone Simpson, a three-time Olympic medalist, tested positive for the stimulant Oxilofrine at the Jamaican championships last month. In May, Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown tested positive for a banned diuretic.

However, Australian hurdler Sally Pearson, American high jumper Brigetta Barrett, and sprinter Justin Gatlin didn’t follow Carmelita Jeter of the United States and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and didn’t shy away from discussing the issue of doping.

Gatlin, a former Olympic and world champion who was suspended for four years after testing positive for a banned substance in 2006, remarked you have to make sure that you’re responsible for what’s going into your body and who’s around you. He added that is one thing that he has learnt when everything happened with him and said you got to move forward.

Barrett, who won the U.S. trials with a personal best of 2.04, said he had not expected the doping test announcements and said you are always shocked by the news when your ‘heroes’ have fallen and it does feel like a shock because he didn’t expect those people to have a positive test. Barrett added that his heart and prayers go out to Gay and anybody else having to deal with the consequences of a positive test result and went on to remark that he can only pray that they could deal with it with grace and that other people can treat them accordingly.

Pearson highlighted the work of anti-doping authorities around the world while saying doping has returned to plague the image of the sport. He said it is disappointing that these things happen but at the same time, she guesses it’s good that whatever doping agency is doing it is keeping on top of the athletes. Pearson added it is a shame that you have to talk about it and it’s a shame that you have to comment on it and have a feeling and an opinion about what’s happened, because it’s hard as we know these athletes personally as well and it can be difficult.

In another development, Olympic discus thrower Traves Smikle became the fourth Jamaican athlete in four days to have a positive doping test. Smikle said he did not knowingly ingest a banned substance and said in a statement that he as an athlete takes responsibility for whatever is found in his body but he would like to say that he did not knowingly or willfully ingest any banned substance.

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