Jamaica doping

Asafa Powell trainer Chris Xuereb says he’s ‘a scapegoat’

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The trainer of Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson denies providing banned substances to the Jamaican sprinters, who he says are “looking for a scapegoat.”

A 500-word email from Canadian trainer Chris Xuereb‘s account — titled “Statement” — was sent to media outlets including NBCSports.com on Tuesday night.

Xuereb has been blamed by the sprinters’ agent and track club coach for the positive drug tests returned by Powell, a former 100-meter world-record holder, and Simpson, the 2008 Olympic 100-meter silver medalist, from the Jamaican national championships in June.

Xuereb, Powell and Simpson were placed under investigation by Italian police on Tuesday for violating the country’s doping laws.

“I did not provide any banned or illegal substances to Asafa Powell or Sherone Simpson,” the email read. “While I did recommend vitamins, all vitamins recommended by me were all purchased over the counter at reputable Nutritional stores and were major brands.”

Powell and Simpson tested positive for the same banned stimulant, oxilofrine, according to their statements. They will likely face suspensions and probably won’t compete again this year pending “B” sample results.

“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,” the  sprinters’ 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.”

The email from Xuereb’s account disagrees.

“Both athletes are clearly looking for a scapegoat,” the email said. “I am confident, and I have also spoken to researchers and the Police, that I have done nothing wrong.”

Police raided the Italian hotel where the athletes and trainer were staying Monday. The raid was conducted at the request of the athletes to the World Anti-Doping Agency, it has been reported.

“All vitamins provided by me were found to be legal by the Italian Police,” the email said.

The email said Xuereb was hired in May by Powell and his agent to provide soft tissue massage therapy and nutritional help.

“These athletes did not inform me that they were taking any additional supplementation other than what I recommended and it is obvious that these athletes were taking additional supplements that were not discussed or known to me,” the email said. “It is time the athletes took responsibility for their doping instead of looking around for a scapegoat.”

The full, unedited copy of the email is below:

I was hired by Asafa Powell and his agent, Paul Doyle, and began working in May, 2013.   My primary responsibilities were to provide soft tissue massage therapy as well as nutritional help to manage the general health of these athletes.   These athletes were suffering from chronic injuries they had before I started working with them.   I worked extremely hard to help Asafa Powell and Sheron Simpson with their injuries. Most importantly, I did not provide any banned or illegal substances to Asafa Powell or Sherone Simpson. While I did recommend vitamins, all vitamins recommended by me were all purchased over the counter at reputable Nutritional stores and were major brands; Metagenics, SISU, AOR, Epiphany. I was instructed by the agent and athletes to buy these vitamins. All vitamins recommended by me were shown to the MVP club coach Stephen Francis. He has gone on record and confirmed the vitamins recommended by me did not contain any performance enhancing substance and were not what was found in Asafa and Sherone’s positive drug testing findings.  Further all vitamins provided by me were found to be legal by the Italian Police.I do not know what these athletes were taking in addition to what I suggested to them. Although I suggested certain vitamins to these athletes it is ultimately the athlete’s responsibility to accept or reject my suggestion.   These athletes did not inform me that they were taking any additional supplementation other than what I recommended and it is obvious that these athletes were taking additional supplements that were not discussed or known to me.I was informed by the italian Police that other supplements were found in these athletes’ possession. I cooperated fully with the Italian Police and provided answers to all their questions. I was not arrested or detained as alleged. I was simply questioned for several hours (as were Asafa and Sherone) and free to leave.Unfortunately it appears that these athletes were not solely following my suggestions or WADA’s guidelines. These guidelines are in place so all athletes can have a clean sport. Both athletes are clearly looking for a scapegoat. I am confident, and I have also spoken to researchers and the Police, that I have done nothing wrong. It is very difficult at this time to assist some athletes without risk of being made the scapegoat in these situations.We need to remember that in addition to Asafa and Sherone, three other Jamaican athletes tested positive at the 2013 Jamaican trials. I had no contact with these athletes nor do I know them.It is time the athletes took responsibility for their doping instead of looking around for a scapegoat whether that person is their therapist, bartender or anyone else. Athletes keep using the same story which is to blame the scapegoat for their own wrong doing. I am extremely disappointed that these athletes have chosen to blame me for their own violations.  WADA and the public needs to stop accepting these stories and hold these athletes accountable.

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Maia, Alex Shibutani beaten in free dance, still repeat as U.S. champions

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KANSAS CITY — Maia and Alex Shibutani were not the best U.S. ice dancers on Saturday, for the first time in a year. Still, they held on to repeat as U.S. champions.

The siblings were outscored in the U.S. Championships free dance by Madison Chock and Evan Bates, but their lead from a record-breaking short dance was enough to win by 1.01 points at Sprint Center. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue were third after Hubbell shockingly fell during their free dance.

The top three repeated from 2016. Full results are here.

The Shibutanis took a 2.46-point lead into the free dance and totaled 200.05 points overall. They missed the U.S. Championships overall record score, set by Olympic champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White, by .14 of a point, after breaking Davis and White’s short dance record Friday.

“A year out from the Olympics, this is exactly where we want to be,” Maia Shibutani told Andrea Joyce on NBC. “I know we’ve improved so much.”

Chock and Bates, the 2015 U.S. champions, outscored the Shibutanis in a program on Saturday for the first time since the 2016 U.S. Championships short dance.

It was at last year’s nationals that the Shibutanis displaced Chock and Bates as the U.S. power couple in dance. The siblings went on to better Chock and Bates in both programs at the Four Continents Championships, World Championships and the Grand Prix Final in December.

“A lot of times we get hung up on results, and it doesn’t really, truly reflect how our skating has grown and how our partnership has evolved,” Bates said. “I think this was our best competition, probably, to date. … We would have loved to recapture our national title, but it didn’t happen for us.”

Hubbell and Donohue had been rising until Hubbell hit the ice Saturday. They were sixth at the 2016 World Championships and then fifth at the Grand Prix Final in December, finishing ahead of Chock and Bates.

They leave Kansas City with a fourth U.S. Championships bronze medal. They’ve never cracked the top two.

“It wasn’t our day, my day in particular,” said Hubbell, before getting a peck on the cheek from Donohue. “Just a funny, fluke moment. I just want to say thanks to Zach for being a really fabulous partner. … I thank my lucky stars to have a partner that can help me through a moment like that.”

The Shibutanis earned their first U.S. title in 2016, then took silver at the world championships last March and bronze at the Grand Prix Final last month. Despite the free dance scores, they are confident going into worlds in two months.

“The past year and a half, we’ve built so much momentum,” Alex Shibutani said. “We’re really coming into our own.”

The world’s two best couples are two-time reigning world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France and Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

Virtue and Moir took Olympic gold in 2010 and silver in 2014, then took two seasons off and returned this year to post the highest scores under the current system implemented in 2010.

The U.S., though, is unquestionably the deepest ice dance nation. The Shibutanis, Chock and Bates and Hubbell and Donohue made up half of the top six at the 2016 World Championships. All three couples qualified for each of the last two Grand Prix Finals, which take only six couples.

Meanwhile, Davis and White have watched the ascension while taking a three-year break from competition. They are running out of time to decide if they will attempt to defend their Olympic title in PyeongChang. A nation can send no more than three couples to the Olympics.

The U.S. Championships continue Saturday night with the women’s free skate (8 ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Check out NBCsports.com/USFIGS for all-access coverage all weekend.

VIDEO: Tara Lipinski reflects on winning 1997 U.S. title at age 14

U.S. Championships Ice Dance
GOLD: Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani — 200.05

SILVER: Madison Chock/Evan Bates — 199.04
BRONZE: Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue — 191.42
4. Elliana Pogrebinsky/Alex Benoit — 170.29
5. Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker — 160.06

Haven Denney, Brandon Frazier win U.S. pairs title after year off

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KANSAS CITY — Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier returned from a year off to win their first U.S. pairs title on Saturday, despite an error-prone free skate and against a field lacking any previous U.S. champion teams.

Denney and Frazier jumped from second after the short program to total 188.32 points and win by 2.04 over Sochi Olympian Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran. Denney and Frazier’s total score was 23.33 points fewer than last year’s winning score.

Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc, who led by 3.96 after the short program, had a strong free skate going until a fall on their throw triple Lutz and finished third Saturday.

Full results are here.

Denney and Frazier were the top U.S. pair in the fall international season by 16 points, taking a silver medal at Skate America.

But Denney struggled on landings in the short program, her right leg wrapped after blowing out her right knee in spring 2015 that caused them to miss the entire 2015-16 season. They also had multiple jumping errors in their free skate, but, unlike the rest of the top five, stayed on their feet Saturday.

“We’re trying harder elements, harder jumps, bigger throws, bigger twists,” Frazier said. “What you see is a couple of ups and downs. This is all building for the next season.”

The U.S. will send two pairs to the world championships in Helsinki in two months, but not definitively the top two finishers from Saturday. The world championships pairs teams will be named Sunday.

Denney and Frazier finished 12th at the 2015 Worlds, after placing second at that year’s U.S. Championships. Castelli and Tran, in their second year as a pair, have no worlds experience together and are ineligible for the 2018 Olympics. Tran, born in Canada, is not a U.S. citizen.

Pairs is the U.S.’ weakest discipline. The last U.S. pair to earn an Olympic or world medal was Kyoka Ina and John Zimmerman at the 2002 Worlds. Eight different pairs have won the last nine U.S. titles.

In 2016, the U.S. pairs finished ninth and 13th at worlds, but both of those teams are out due to injuries.

Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Christopher Knierim, the top U.S. pair in international competition in recent seasons, has been out of competition all season due to her September stomach surgery. They have returned to full training.

The Knierims filed a petition to be named to the world championships team, which is selected on a discretionary basis on results from the U.S. Championships and other recent competitions.

“Whatever they decide,” Tran said of a U.S. Figure Skating selection committee, “we’re all for that.”

The 2016 U.S. champions Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea withdrew before the free skate Saturday after Kayne suffered a concussion in a short-program fall. They placed fifth in the short program.

The U.S. Championships continue Saturday night with the women’s free skate (8 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Check out NBCsports.com/USFIGS for all-access coverage all weekend.

VIDEO: Tara Lipinski reflects on 1997 U.S. title at age 14

U.S. Championships Pairs
GOLD: Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier — 188.32
SILVER: Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran — 186.28
BRONZE: Ashley Cain/Timothy LeDuc — 184.41

4. Deanna Stellato/Nathan Bartholomay — 173.50
5. Jessica Pfund/Joshua Santillan — 168.90