Sprinter Simpson faces disciplinary panel

Olympic sprinter Sherone Simpson testified before a Jamaican disciplinary panel on Tuesday that she never intentionally took a banned substance and blamed her positive doping test on a newly hired trainer who provided her with supplements.

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Before a three-member panel of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission, the Olympic 4×100-relay gold and silver medallist insisted she was not a cheat. She testified that she believed a supplement provided by Canadian Christopher Xuereb caused her positive test.

Simpson and former 100-metre world record holder Asafa Powell tested positive for the stimulant oxilofrone at the June national championships. Discus throwers Allison Randall and Travis Smikle, and a junior athlete, also tested positive for banned substances at the same meet.

Simpson said had just recently begun working with Xuereb.

“I trusted Chris. I invited Chris into my very small circle.”

Simpson said one of six supplements provided by Xuereb was responsible for her “devastating” positive test. She said she researched the Epiphany D1 supplement extensively before taking it and “nothing I read raised a red flag or an alarm bell”. The sprinter acknowledged she did not disclose the new supplement on doping control forms.

Xuereb has said he didn’t give Simpson and Powell any performance-enhancing drugs and only purchased major brand vitamins. In July, he told AP that “both athletes are clearly looking for a scapegoat”.

Simpson testified that she heard about her positive test in July while at a Jamaican training camp at Lignano Sabbiadoro in northern Italy.

Supplements were seized and the two sprint stars and Xuereb were formally placed under criminal investigation in Italy following a hotel raid.

Simpson’s disciplinary hearing is expected to last at least two days. Her case is being heard publicly, unlike three-time Olympic gold medallist Veronica Campbell-Brown, whose public warning by a Jamaican panel in October followed closed-door hearings after testing positive for a banned diuretic.

Powell and Doyle, listed as witnesses in Simpson’s case, are also attending the hearings this week. Powell is expected to face another disciplinary panel next week.

Jamaica’s anti-doping program was audited late last year by the World Anti-Doping Agency after a former Jamaican director alleged it didn’t drug-test its athletes for months before they dazzled at the 2012 London Olympics. In November, all 12 board members resigned amid questions about Jamaican drug testing.

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