Kingston (Jamaica), April 11 (IANS/CMC) Sprint star Asafa Powell's career has been dealt a severe blow with Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) slapping on him an 18-month ban for failing a drug test.
The Jamaican, a former world record holder in the 100 metres, tested positive for the stimulant oxilofrine at the National Senior Championships here last June, but had blamed Canadian physical trainer Chris Xureb for providing him with the supplements, that included the banned substance, reports CMC.
Powell has described the Thursday's ruling as "unfair and patently unjust" and said he would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
He added that a legal supplement he took was contaminated.
However, a three-member JADCO disciplinary panel said the 31-year-old had been "negligent" and had been "at fault", and imposed the sanction that will see him ineligible for competition until Dec 28 this year.
"Having reviewed and listened, and bisected all evidence in this matter, and reading the submissions of both the counsel, the panel arrived at a unanimous decision and it is a decision that Powell was found to be negligent and that he was at fault, especially since he is an elite athlete," said Lennox Gayle of JADCO's disciplinary panel.
"So the period of ineligibility will be 18 months, starting from the date of the positive test," Gayle added.
A disappointed Powell said that it was for the first time he had an adverse finding in his 12-year career and in over 150 drug tests.
"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. Unfortunately, this was not the case," Powell said in a statement.
"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... it is for a stimulant... a stimulant that is only banned during competition and experts have declared has no performance enhancing effects.
Powell, who holds the world record for the most wind-legal sub-10 clockings, with 81, had testified in January that Xureb provided him with nine supplements, including Epiphany D1.
His legal team had presented three different laboratory reports that Epiphany D1 contained the stimulant Oxilofrine. However, the two-time 100m World Championship bronze medalist told the hearing that he had failed to list them because he could not remember their names.
The ban will not only rule Powell out of the lucrative IAAF Diamond League season but will raise question marks about the longevity of his career.
For all his ability, Powell has never won World or Olympic gold and has often failed to deliver at major games. In the 100m final at the London 2012 Olympics, he pulled up with injury, which cut short his international season.
The 2016 Rio Olympics is seen as Powell's last chance for sprint gold at an Olympiad.
Powell's sanction comes two days after his former training partner Sherone Simpson received an 18-month suspension from the same panel for the same substance.
Another Jamaican, Olympic Discus Thrower Allison Randall, was also handed a two-year ban Tuesday, for using the prohibited diuretic Hydrochlorothiazide.