Asafa Powell

Asafa Powell updates: under investigation in Italy

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The circumstances of Tyson Gay‘s positive drug test, such as the specific banned substance and the person who “let him down,” have yet to surface, but another day brought more information surrounding Asafa Powell.

UPDATE: Italian authorities placed Powell, Jamaican teammate Sherone Simpson, who also tested positive, and trainer Chris Xuereb under investigation, according to The Associated Press.    

Prosecutors believe the trio violated Article 9 of the doping laws, which calls for punishment for whoever administers or consumes banned substances.

The Telegraph reported that the police raid on Powell and Simpson’s hotel in Lignano, Italy, was requested by Powell and Simpson.

An Italian police captain told the AP it was unclear if the seized substances were illegal, but they were being analyzed.

Powell’s publicist, Tara Playfair-Scott, posted on Powell’s Twitter account that Aleve and 5-Hour ENERGY were in Powell’s room and given to Italian police.

The Olympic medalist sprinters, who were made aware of positive drug tests Saturday and admitted them Sunday, contacted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and requested the raid, according to the newspaper.

After obtaining the necessary search warrant, Italian police arrived at the hotel on Sunday evening and searched the rooms of Powell, Simpson and Xeureb, before removing all supplements and medicines. Police said around 50 substances had been sent to a laboratory in Italy to test for the presence of performance-enhancing drugs.

The news made the front page of Italy’s leading sports daily newspaper, Gazzetta dello Sport, on Tuesday.

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Powell was the 100-meter world-record holder before Usain Bolt took it over in May 2008. Simpson was the 2008 Olympic silver medalist in the women’s 100.

Powell and Simpson were previously scheduled to compete in a meet in Lignano on Tuesday, according to the AP, but their names were not on the start lists as of Tuesday morning.

They, along with Gay, could face two-year bans from competition, assuming their “B’ samples don’t produce different results. However, suspensions have been reduced for athletes who make a strong case they unknowingly took supplements with banned substances.

Powell and Simpson’s agent and a coach with their Jamaica track club, MVP, blamed Xuereb for the banned stimulant oxilofrine showing up on tests at the Jamaican national championships last month.

“Once we knew of the positive test, we realized that Asafa and Sherone were the only two athletes in the group who had been given new supplements by this physio that they are working with,” their agent, Paul Doyle, told the Telegraph. “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. It’s obvious 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 as everything in Asafa and Sherone’s possession.”

Doyle hired Xeureb in May to treat Powell for his persistent health issues, which flared up when he injured his hamstring in Australia in March.

“He’d been highly recommended by some other athletes who had worked with him and had no shadiness in his past that we knew of,” he said. According to Doyle, Powell was put on more than a dozen different supplements by Xeureb but the labels were all checked in advance and none of the ingredients were on the banned list.

The MVP track club coach, Stephen Francis, said in an interview with a Jamaican radio station that Xuereb is renown with dark issues in the sport, according to the radio station’s Twitter account.

The New York Times reported Xuereb injected Powell with a drug used by Lance Armstrong‘s U.S. Postal Service cycling team.

Powell’s mother, Cislyn, told the Jamaica Gleaner that her son “is not a fool.”

“This is like a recitation,” she said. “I always say to him, ‘Don’t even trust yourself. Don’t take anything from anybody. Don’t eat from anyone.’ I really feel it from my heart, but still I put my trust in him that he would not have done that. It must be something that went wrong.”

During a recent visit to his parents’ home on Father’s Day, Mrs Powell said Asafa assured her: “Mama, I wouldn’t do anything like that.”

“I don’t believe that he went and buy it and take it like that,” Powell’s father, William, told the newspaper. “Somebody must be responsible for giving him that, and the person that give him must know that it is a banned substance. … That person mash up Asafa future.”

The Guardian detailed the benefits of the drug that Powell and Simpson tested positive for. Both sprinters denied knowingly taking oxilofrine through statements Sunday.

Oxilofrine “is a stimulant used to boost the body’s ability to burn fat,” the British newspaper wrote.

The substance helps athletes boost their power-to-weight ratio with more lean muscle and less fat, and so increase their speed.  …

The stimulant in question may also increase the rate at which the heart reaches its maximum performance during exercise, meaning a greater supply of oxygen can get to the muscles earlier.

The newspaper reported cyclists, runners and football and rugby players have been banned for using oxilofrine in the last three years.

Oxilofrine is an agent that stimulates part of the nervous system and was previously used to treat low blood pressure. More recently, it has started to appear in combination with caffeine in dietary supplements marketed as weight loss products.

However, the superiority of using oxilofrine over an exercise warm-up to achieve this appears unconvincing.

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Galen Rupp, Meb Keflezighi lead U.S. Olympic marathon team

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Galen Rupp and Meb Keflezighi shared nothing in marathon running before the U.S. Olympic trials on Saturday, but the two men from vastly different backgrounds were together, alone, leading the race with five miles left.

Rupp, 29, pulled away to win in 2:11:12 on the streets of Los Angeles. The former Oregon Catholic high school prodigy became the first American to make an Olympic marathon team in his 26.2-mile debut since 1968.

Keflezighi, a 40-year-old born in war-torn Eritrea who moved to the U.S. in 1987, crossed the finish line 68 seconds later in second place. He will become the oldest U.S. Olympic runner of all time in Rio in August.

Rupp and Keflezighi, the only U.S. men to make an Olympic podium in distances longer than 1500m since 1984, were so close to each other in their three-mile leading stretch that their Olympic silver medals could have clanked against each other had they been wearing them.

Keflezighi, in his 23rd marathon and in front of Rupp at the time, didn’t take kindly to the six-inches-taller marathon rookie breathing on him. He let Rupp know about it on the streets of LA.

“It’s not a track, the road is open,” Keflezighi recalled in a press conference, shortly before exchanging a laughter-inducing glance with Rupp, who fittingly walked in to sit on a stool to Keflezighi’s immediate right mid-answer. “It was not a very friendly conversation.”

Now Rupp and Keflezighi are U.S. Olympic marathon teammates. Along with Jared Ward, who finished third Saturday, 1:47 behind Rupp, to make his first Olympics.

Full results are here.

In the women’s race, Amy CraggDesi Linden and Shalane Flanagan were the top three, all returning to the Olympics, with Flanagan collapsing at the finish line. Full recap here.

Rupp and Keflezighi broke away on their own around the 20th mile. Rupp then dropped Keflezighi in the 23rd mile. The reigning Olympic 10,000m silver medalist fist pumped crossing the finish line.

“It was a bit of a change running the marathon, but there’s no bigger honor than being able to represent your country at the Olympics,” Rupp then told Lewis Johnson on NBC.

Dathan Ritzenhein, a three-time Olympian and a pre-race favorite with Keflezighi and Rupp, dropped out of the race around mile 20 in the hottest U.S. Olympic marathon trials of all time. The temperature at the men’s start at 10:06 a.m. local time was 66 degrees.

The Rio Olympic men’s marathon will be on Aug. 21, the final day of the Games. Keflezighi’s 2004 silver is the only U.S. men’s marathon medal since Frank Shorter took gold in 1972 and silver in 1976.

Rupp has said he prefers the 10,000m and might not race the marathon at the Olympics. If he doesn’t, the fourth-place trials finisher, Luke Puskedra, will move onto the team.

“I think [Rupp] is a 2:05 [marathon] guy, someday,” Rupp’s coach, three-time New York City Marathon winner Alberto Salazar, told media after Saturday’s race. (The fastest American marathoner of all time, Ryan Hall, clocked a best of 2:04:58 at the 2011 Boston Marathon.)

Rupp could contest two races in Rio, the 10,000m (Aug. 13 final) and the marathon, or the 10,000m and the 5000m (Aug. 20). Rupp finished seventh in the 5000m in London.

“I would say that the 10k is still my primary focus,” said Rupp, who would have to make the Olympic track team at those trials in Eugene, Ore., from July 1-10, in a USATF interview published Jan. 28. “Really, it just comes down to what I think I have a better chance in as a second event, whether that’s the 5k or the marathon.”

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Amy Cragg wins marathon trials; Shalane Flanagan collapses at finish

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No doubt Amy Cragg and Shalane Flanagan bonded as training partners en route to the U.S. Olympic marathon trials, escaping a black bear the clearest example.

They couldn’t have been closer after finishing first and third to make the Olympic team Saturday.

Flanagan collapsed in Cragg’s arms two strides after the finish line at the hottest U.S. Olympic marathon trials ever in Los Angeles. She was then helped into a wheelchair.

Cragg won the race in 2:28:20, redeeming after she finished fourth to miss the team by one spot at the 2012 trials. Flanagan came in third Saturday to make her fourth Olympic team, 25 seconds behind second-place Desi Linden and 58 seconds behind Cragg.

Full results are here.

Cragg, 32, waited for Flanagan at the finish line, holding an American flag, hugging Flanagan and then, suddenly, keeping the 2008 Olympic 10,000m bronze medalist from falling onto the pavement.

Flanagan, the 2012 trials winner and a pre-race favorite, said there was a point in the 26.2 miles where she thought she was “done.”

Cragg talked her through it. They spent most of the final half of the race alone in the lead.

“Sweet baby Jesus, I’m so thankful for [Cragg],” Flanagan, the second-fastest U.S. female marathoner ever, said minutes after finishing, with an ice pack over her shoulders, clutching a water bottle in her right hand and holding onto Cragg’s right shoulder with her left hand.

Cragg held up Flanagan during the interview and then helped her back into the wheelchair.

The temperature at the start of the men’s race at 10:06 a.m. local time was 66 degrees, hottest ever at a marathon trials (the first trials were in 1968). The women began 16 minutes later.

Cragg finished fourth at the 2012 marathon trials, then made that Olympic team in the 10,000m on the track and finished 11th in London in her Olympic debut. She moved from Providence, R.I., to Portland, Ore., in the fall to join Flanagan’s training group.

“Finishing fourth, looking back on it now, was so good for me,” Cragg told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “It made me more determined than ever as an athlete. I’ve worked really hard the last four years, basically, to move up one spot.

“I just knew, training with Shalane, would give me all the confidence I need.”

Cragg dropped Flanagan in the final two miles. Before that, she said she asked Flanagan if she was OK. Flanagan replied, no, I’m not.

“She seemed like she was even struggling a little bit just to say that,” Cragg said. “Before the last water stop, I kind of looked at her, and she was turning bright red. I knew the heat was getting to her. I told her, I’m going to get you a water bottle, dump the whole thing on your head.”

Linden, arguably the pre-race co-favorite with Flanagan, repeated her 2012 trials finish of second place, surging in the final mile past Flanagan.

At the London Olympics, Linden pulled out 2.2 miles into the race with right hip pain, what would later be diagnosed as a femoral stress fracture.

“It’s been this Sisyphean task where I get to the top, and then the rock crumbles down,” Linden said Saturday. “I want to do it better this time.”

Two-time Olympian Kara Goucher finished fourth. She plans to compete at the track trials in July in Eugene, Ore., to go for Rio.

Goucher finished 65 seconds behind Flanagan, her former training partner, and said she missed workouts last week while sick. The 37-year-old said she may have picked up an illness from her 5-year-old son, Colt.

“I kept asking myself if I was doing all that I could, and I was,” Goucher told media, in tears. “They were just better. … I didn’t fight this hard to just fold right now, so yeah, I’ll be trying to make the 10k team [at track trials in July].”

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