Jamaican track star Asafa Powell's 2016 Summer Olympic hopes took a major hit on Thursday as he was slapped with an 18-month ban for doping by the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission, according to Eurosport.com:
POWELL BANNED! Asafa Powell is handed an 18-month ban by JADCO for his doping offence. pic.twitter.com/nxFIJ1SV9q— Eurosport.com EN (@EurosportCom_EN) April 10, 2014
Per the Associated Press, via ABCNews.com, the suspension stems from a positive test for the banned stimulant oxilofrone at the Jamaican national trials in June 2013.
Powell blamed the positive test on trainer Chris Xuereb back in July, according to Nick Zaccardi of NBC Olympic Talk, but Xuereb denied any involvement.
"I did not provide any banned or illegal substances to Asafa Powell or (fellow Jamaican runner) Sherone Simpson," Xuereb said. "While I did recommend vitamins, all vitamins recommended by me were all purchased over the counter at reputable Nutritional stores and were major brands."
The 31-year-old Powell was once considered the fastest man in the world, and he captured a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics as part of Jamaica's 4x100-meter relay team.
Will Asafa Powell compete at the 2016 Summer Olympics?
Powell has been surpassed by the likes of Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake when it comes to Jamaican sprinting supremacy, but he is still considered one of the best short-distance runners in the world.
Now that Powell will be banned from competition for the next year and a half, though, his spot on the Jamaican Olympic team for the 2016 Rio Games is very much in doubt.
As good as Powell was in the past, his skills were inevitably starting to erode anyway. Even if Powell had been permitted to compete for the next 18 months, it is entirely possible that he would have been left off the Olympic team.
It isn't unheard of for a sprinter to bounce back from something like this, as American Justin Gatlin returned from a four-year ban to win bronze in the 100-meter dash at the 2012 London Olympics.
Those types of comeback stories are few and far between, though. The odds are very much stacked against Powell, and it is entirely possible that we have seen the end of a decorated sprinting career.
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