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Powell Blasts ‘Unfair, Unjust’ Doping Ban

Kingston (Jamaica) (AFP) – Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell, the former 100m world record holder, slammed the 18-month doping ban meted out to him on Thursday calling it “unfair” and “unjust”.

“This ruling is not only unfair, it is patently unjust. Panels such as these, I understood, were assembled to allow athletes who, consciously or unconsciously come into conflict with the rules of sport, a chance at equitable redemption,” Powell said in a statement posted on his website.

“Unfortunately, this was not the case.”

Powell’s lawyer had already vowed to appeal the decision handed down by a three-member panel of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission Disciplinary Panel, which unanimously ruled that Powell, who blamed his positive result for a banned stimulant on a nutritional supplement, was negligent.

Panel chairman Lennox Gayle announced the suspension, which is due to end on December 20 of this year.

Powell and training partner Sherone Simpson tested positive for banned stimulant oxilofrine after the 100m finals at the Jamaican national championships on June 21, 2013.

“Having reviewed and listened, and bisected all evidence in this matter, and reading the submissions of both councils, the panel arrived at a unanimous decision and it is a decision that Mr. Powell was found to be negligent and that he was at fault, especially since he is an elite athlete, so the period of ineligibility will be 18 moths, starting from the date of the positive test,” Gayle said.

Powell’s lawyer Kwame Gordon said the athlete would appeal.

Powell insisted that oxilofrine was not listed on the contents of his supplement.

“As an athlete, I took a legal supplement—Ephiphany D1. As it turns out, that supplement was contaminated with oxilofrine. My team commissioned two private laboratories that confirmed that oxilofrine was present in the supplements, despite it not being listed as an ingredient on the bottle nor on its website,” added the 31-year-old.

“I would also like to share that upon realizing that the supplement contained oxilofrine my team made contact with both the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) who not only ordered samples of the supplement from the manufacturer, but also tested and confirmed our findings.”

“USADA has also since issued a warning on their website for athletes to avoid the product as it contains banned substances.”

Powell, who held the 100m world record between June 2005 and May 2008, said he believes the punishment is too severe for the level and nature of the offence.

“This is the first time in nearly 12 years of being in the sport and over 150 tests that I have had an adverse finding,” he said.

“Sanctions for a stimulant and this kind of infraction usually range from public warnings to a ban of three months, six months in the most extreme cases.”

“I was and am still more than prepared to accept a sanction that is in line with the offence. Instead, nine 9 months later, what has been handed down is clearly not based on the offence nor the facts surrounding it.”

JADCO lawyer Lackston Robinson had argued in February that Powell should be banned a minimum of two years, telling Gayle, Peter Prendergast and Dr. Japheth Ford that the sprinter was “guilty of gross negligence.”

Powell blamed Canadian physical therapist Chris Xuereb for the positive test, saying he provided the nutritional supplement, Epiphany D1, that resulted in the positive test.

Robinson argued that Powell’s trust of Xuereb, whom he had known for less than two months was “gross negligence” and cited discrepancies in testimony by Powell, Simpson and their manager, Paul Doyle.

A bottle of Epiphany D1 submitted for testing to a US lab by Doyle showed traces of oxilofrine while one bought by the lab from the Epiphany D1 website did not test positive for the same substance.

“The evidence presented in the case was quite lengthy and detailed, and I must say, the defense team of Mr Powell did some real hard work in presenting the type of evidence and material in its defense of its case,” Gayle said. “The submission of JADCO was also very useful.”

Photo Via Think Progress

Can Obama — and Democrats — Recover From This Raw Deal?

Within hours after President Obama and Congressional Democratic leaders finally pushed through a debt-ceiling agreement with the Republicans, they were disowning their own deal. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi voted for the bill but refused to “whip” the restive progressives in her caucus to do so. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid remarked that voters would be “unimpressed” to learn that working families had again been sacrificed to protect the wealthy. As for the president, he attacked the unfairness of the bill and the irresponsible process that produced it, while waiting to affix his signature to the thing. Then they all started talking “jobs,” suddenly restored to the top of the Washington agenda. But worried as Americans are about jobs and the economy, what may trouble them even more is the political schizophrenia that seems to afflict the Democrats.

Consider Obama’s own statements about the debt-ceiling bill in the moment of its passage: At first, he boasts that this legislation will reduce federal discretionary spending to the lowest level since the Eisenhower presidency, more than six decades ago; virtually in the next breath, he warns that the economic recovery is stalled — and declares that somehow we must help the unemployed father and the single mother whose hours have been cut back. The bill he signed will ensure that more dads are laid off, especially in the public sector, and that more moms see their wages reduced — as he certainly knows.

The president’s supporters might reply that he salvaged as much as he could from opponents who appear willing, perhaps eager, to sink the national economy, ruin American prestige, and set us on a permanent path toward decline. In the end his deal left the expiration of the Bush tax cuts in place, created a budgetary “trigger” mechanism that only cuts Medicare providers and requires large cuts in the defense budget, and kept revenue on the bargaining table in Congress (despite Republican claims to the contrary). He forced them to drop the ludicrous requirement that the Senate pass a “balanced budget amendment,” the primary objective of the Tea Party. More immediately, he seems to have prevented a downgrade in America’s credit rating, at least temporarily, while precluding a similarly destructive episode in 2012.

All that will not be enough to save Obama and the Democrats from the damaging traps they have laid for themselves next year. Unless the special new joint Congressional committee reaches agreement on well over a trillion dollars in budget reductions, an equivalent amount will automatically be cut from future budgets, divided roughly between national security and domestic discretionary spending. The defense cuts will be large enough, or so some observers believe, to encourage the Republicans to consider increasing revenues in this next phase of the negotiations. Unfortunately, there is no reason to depend on that kind of reasoned judgment from the GOP any more. House Speaker John Boehner has vowed that all the Republicans on the “SuperCongress” committee will be committed in advance to zero increases in revenue. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell thinks the brinksmanship of the past month, which drove markets down, endangered our credit rating and probably damaged the economy, was a great success. He plans to do it all again! Meanwhile Rush Limbaugh is berating Boehner and McConnell for making any deal at all, when “we could have hung [default] on Obama.”

This malevolent obstructionism is what passes for patriotic in the Republican Party today. Wrecking American prestige and power is to be encouraged, so long as the president and his party can be falsely blamed. Obama would be repeating a fatal mistake if he expects the Republican leaders to negotiate in good faith and avoid the triggered cuts next year. He ought to know by now that they care more about protecting wealthy taxpayers than they do about the military — and that they won’t care at all about the damaging economic impact of enormous, abrupt spending cuts. The Democratic leadership will care — which is why Republican intransigence could force them to capitulate again and again.

So at some point soon, the Democrats – and especially the president — will have to start playing harder and smarter or consign themselves to political impotence. They ought to be thinking about their own progressive version of a “balanced budget amendment.” They ought to be talking loudly about the right ways to save Medicare and Social Security, including gradual changes in taxes, benefits, and investments. They ought to be targeting the fattest tax breaks enjoyed by the oil industry, while promoting higher employment through energy conservation. Most of all, they must begin to make the case for ending the Bush tax cuts, especially for those earning more than $250,000 a year — because every poll indicates that is an argument they can win. And they need do nothing — which they should be able to manage — except let that profligate legislation expire on schedule.