The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has announced the doping bans imposed on Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson to be reduced from 18 months to six months and they are free to compete immediately.
A Jamaica anti-doping disciplinary panel suspended the athletes after the athletes tested positive for the banned stimulant Oxilofrine. Both athletes claimed they unknowingly took the banned substance through Epiphany D1 and claimed it was given by Powell's former physical therapist Chris Xuereb. Simpson's lead attorney Kwame Gordon called Professor Wayne McLaughlin, director of Caribbean Toxicology, UWI during the initial hearing who said Oxilofrine was not listed on the packaging for Epiphany D1.
The CAS asked the Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) to pay 'historic costs' in lawyer and appeal costs, which is believed to be 'one of the biggest rewards in the history of CAS.' The CAS said there were flaws in the testing procedure by the Jamaica Anti-doping Commission. A CAS statement said they put forward that the offence committed was minor because it was caused by contamination of the food supplement Epiphany D1 by the banned substance Oxilofrine and requested that the suspensions be reduced to three months.
In a statement on its website, the CAS said it has decided to reduce their period of ineligibility to six months, which has been already served. After the CAS verdict, Simpson said she feels total relief and that we have finally been vindicated and added actions were not intentional and CAS has recognized that. Powell remarked he always felt that the 18 months was not in line with a first time positive test result and it being proven it came from a tainted supplement.
The CAS ruling marked the second time in three months it has lowered duration of a doping suspension by a JADCO panel. In May, the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced a six-year ban imposed on Jamaican 400m runner Dominique Blake to make it 18 months. Earlier this year, the CAS dismissed a doping ban of two years on double Olympic 200m gold medalist Veronica Campbell Brown by the International Association of Athletics Federations and the Jamaica Athletics Administration Association.
In response to the CAS verdict, exercise physiologist Dr Ross Tucker of The Science of Sport said the athletes claimed to have ingested the banned substance accidentally as part of a supplement that they were taking and given to them by their coach. Dr Ross Tucker added the anti-doping code has something called strict liability which means that the athlete is responsible that anything that is in their body and added it will be interesting to see why the Court of Arbitration has reduced the ban to the extent that they have.
Tucker remarked the initial 18 month ban was already more lenient than the usual sanctions imposed for doping offences and a further reduction rocks the whole anti-doping movement. He also remarked an "elite athlete cannot afford to be naive" when it comes to taking supplements, especially when there is talk of introducing four-year bans.