Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer
Sherone Simpson is to challenge her 18-month ban in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). An independent disciplinary panel yesterday banned the Olympic medallist until December 20 this year for failing a drug test for the stimulant Oxilofrine at the Jamaican National Championships on June 21, 2013.
The panel of Peter Prendergast, Lennox Gayle, and Dr Japheth Forde unanimously agreed that the athlete had been grossly negligent in all circumstances and was being punished accordingly.
But according to the athlete's agent, Paul Doyle, the ruling was unfair to Simpson. "We are disappointed at the ruling. We think it is unjust and we will be appealing," Doyle told The Gleaner yesterday. He said an appeal would be filed immediately.
Simpson, 29, was not present at the hearing at the Jamaica Conference Centre yesterday. "She is still overseas. Flight arrangements and training made it very difficult for her to be here," Simpson's attorney, Kwame Gordon, told the panel. She needn't have bothered as the hearing lasted mere minutes. Gayle, who chaired the panel, in a brief statement, said Simpson had "admitted to the violation and brought evidence in mitigation" but, "this panel was unanimously of the view that the athlete was negligent".
Ban runs from june 2013
The ban will run from June 21, 2013 to December 20, 2014, which means the 2006 Commonwealth Games 200-metre champion will miss all of the 2014 season and will not be available for selection for any national team for the inaugural World Relay Championships in May and the Commonwealth Games in late July.
"We are happy that the period of ineligibility started from the sample collection period, so she would have served most of her sanction already, but we will have to get instructions from her going forward," said Gordon immediately after the sanction was handed down.
Gayle declined to comment on why the panel decided on 18 months as opposed to the two years recommended by Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) attorney Lackston Robinson. He would only say that the reasons would be forthcoming in the written judgment that should be ready in about a month's time.
Simpson, the 2008 Olympic 100-metre silver medallist and colleague, Asafa Powell, returned adverse findings following competition at the national championships to select Jamaica's team to the 14th IAAF World Athletic Championships that were held in Moscow in August 2013. Both tested positive for the banned stimulant, which they attributed to a supplement, Epiphany D1, that was supplied to them by physical trainer Chris Xuereb. Xuereb was hired by Doyle initially to see to the needs of the injury-prone Powell but eventually took Simpson under his care as well.
The athletes were in Europe when they were notified of the failed tests, and through Doyle, contacted the World Anti-Doping Agency, which arranged to have the Italian police raid the hotel rooms of the athletes and their trainer.
Gordon was asked if he felt that Powell faced a similar sanction tomorrow considering the similarities with Simpson. In response he said that that was a question best posed to the disciplinary panel.