Former 100 metre world record holder Asafa Powell, Jamaican team-mate Sherone Simpson and their physical trainer have been formally placed under criminal investigation for allegedly violating Italy’s doping laws.
The move came a day after Italian police confiscated unidentified substances in a raid on the hotel where the trio were staying in the north-eastern town of Lignano Sabbiadoro after the athletes tested positive for banned stimulants. The trainer is Christopher Xuereb of Canada.
Udine prosecutors believe the trio violated Article 9 of the doping laws, which calls for punishment for whoever administers or consumes banned substances.
Police were still analysing the substances seized to determine if they were legal or not. Being formally placed under investigation is a step up in the Italian justice system from someone simply “informed of the facts,” which is how someone can be questioned by police. That occurred after the raid early Monday, when the trio were brought to a local police station.
Police said that the raids were executed following a tip from the World Anti-Doping Agency. Paul Doyle, the agent for the two sprinters, said they worked in conjunction with Wada on the raid after becoming suspicious that Xuereb, their newly hired trainer, might have given them supplements laced with a banned substance. Doyle also said Powell and Simpson were aware of the impending raid, but Xuereb was kept out of the loop.
“Asafa and Sherone have been tested more than 100 times each through their career and never turned in a positive test,” said Doyle. “Now they change their supplements and the first time they get tested, they have a positive test? It has to be something in those new supplements that has caused it. Chris is the one that provided those.
“We’re not trying to throw Chris under the bus and blame him for anything. We know it has to be something in the supplements he gave them. We’re not saying he did anything deliberate, but it’s in those supplements. We need to figure out what it was that caused this and from there move forward.”
Doyle said the athletes had left Lignano but declined to say where they went.
Powell and Simpson tested positive for the stimulant oxilofrine at the Jamaican championships last month, Doyle announced on Sunday.
The findings come a month after another Jamaican Olympic champion, Veronica Campbell-Brown, tested positive for a banned diuretic.