Italian police to investigate Asafa Powell, Sherone Simpson and physio

Jul 17, 2013, 02:17 IST | AFP

Italian police have opened an investigation for doping against Jamaican sprinters Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson, ANSA news agency reported yesterday, as the athletes blamed their physiotherapist after they failed drugs tests.

The pair, who tested positive for a banned stimulant, were training in northeast Italy but have now left the country after a police raid on their hotel, according to local media reports. Canadian physiotherapist Chris Xuereb, who is similarly under investigation, has also left Italy, ANSA said.

Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson
Jamaican sprinters Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson

The prosecutor’s office in Udine, the city closest to where the Jamaican team was staying, is leading the investigation for suspected violation of a law that punishes the supply and ingestion of stimulants.

Prosecutors have also confirmed the seizure of around 50 boxes including creams, sprays and vials in a search of the rooms of Powell, Simpson and Xuereb in the night between Sunday and Monday.  Police and prosecutors are currently looking for a laboratory that can carry out tests, ANSA said. 

The development came after both athletes pointed to contaminated food supplements as the reason why they failed the dope tests, which have cast a cloud over the build-up to the athletics world championships in Moscow next month and put sprinting in the spotlight.

Britain’s Daily Telegraph quoted Paul Doyle as saying in an interview that both Powell and Simpson had only recently begun working with Xuereb.

US-based Doyle said he had no reason to suspect “mal-intent” on Xuereb’s part and that, like the athletes, he was probably unaware of what exactly what the supplements contained.

Both athletes tested positive for oxilofrine at the Jamaican championships last month. Italian police reportedly brought Xuereb in for questioning and raided his base on Monday, although ANSA said no arrest had been made.

“Asafa and Sherone have been working with WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency) to arrange this police raid, so to speak,” he was quoted as saying.

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