ROME — Former 100-meter world-record holder Asafa Powell, Jamaican teammate Sherone Simpson and their trainer are under investigation for violating Italy’s doping laws.
The move came a day after Italian police confiscated unidentified substances in a raid on the hotel where the three were staying in the northeastern town of Lignano Sabbiadoro, following the athletes’ positive tests for banned stimulants
The trainer is Christopher Xuereb of Canada.
Udine prosecutors believe the three violated Article 9 of the doping laws, which calls for punishment for anyone who administers or consumes banned substances.
Police were still analyzing the substances confiscated.
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 three were brought to a police station.
Both Powell and Simpson, who tested positive for the stimulant oxilofrine, train under coach Stephen Francis at the high-profile MVP Track and Field Club in Jamaica. In an interview on Jamaican radio station HITZ 92 on Monday, Francis blamed the positive tests on Xuereb.
“We are not disowning Asafa, we are just saying this relates to his personal employee. The trainer has nothing to do with MVP,” Francis said.
Francis also said he told Powell to only trust people who were with him from the start.
“If you are going to sink, sink with people who were always around,” Francis said.
Jamaican athletes have made Lignano their in-season training base for years.
A local athletics meet was scheduled for later Tuesday in Lignano and Jamaicans had been scheduled to compete as they do most years. However, neither Powell nor Simpson were on start lists released Monday.
It was unclear if the athletes were still in Lignano. A hotel receptionist told The Associated Press late Monday that Xuereb had checked out.
The news of the positive tests for Powell and Simpson came the same day that American 100-meter record holder Tyson Gay revealed that he also failed a drug test.
Also Monday, discus thrower Allison Randall acknowledged that she was one of the five Jamaican athletes who tested positive for a banned substance at the Jamaican championships last month, along with Powell and Simpson.
Randall holds the island’s record for the discus throw and competed at the London Olympics. Her statement says she was “shocked and surprised” at the findings and hopes her backup sample will clear her name.
The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association issued a brief statement Monday saying an anti-doping management process has started for the athletes. It did not identify the two other athletes who tested positive.
Powell was the last man to hold the 100-meter world record before Usain Bolt broke it in 2008. He also helped the Jamaicans to the 4x100-meter relay gold medal at the 2008 Olympics.
Simpson won Olympic gold in the women’s 4x100 relay in 2004 and silver in 2012, along with a silver in the 100 in 2008.
The findings came a month after another Jamaican Olympic champion, Veronica Campbell-Brown, tested positive for a banned diuretic.
Associated Press writer David McFadden in Kingston, Jamaica, contributed to this report.
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