Jamaica sprinters face minor suspensions

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The Jamaican caravan had moved on from Crystal Palace yesterday. The drugs cloud that cast a shadow over the two days of the Aviva London Grand Prix had shifted too.

It did not look anything as dark as had been first feared when news came yesterday that the substance responsible for five Jamaican athletes falling foul of the doping laws was a minor stimulant that might be contained in over-the-counter cough medicine rather than any hard-core anabolic steroid.

The Jamaica Observer reported that the substance for which the five tested positive at the national championships in Kingston last month was Methylxanthine, a type of bronchodilator commonly used in the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Dr Paul Wright, a sports medicine specialist, told the newspaper: "It clears the bronchial tubes, making it easier to breathe. You could use Methylxanthine if you had a cough just to clear the passage and to get you over flu-like symptoms. It's one of the dangers of people with flu-like symptoms taking medicine that they have not checked out properly, because sometimes these medicines are over-the-counter and they don't list everything in it."

That means the five – all sprinters – can expect to receive minor suspensions of three months or even public warnings. Their identities have yet to be announced by the Jamaican authorities but the manager of Sherri-Ann Brooks, the 2006 Commonwealth Games 100 metres champion, has confirmed that she is one of them and it is known from reliable sources that Yohan Blake, a 19-year-old training partner of Usain Bolt, is another.

The same sources maintain that the list does not include Bolt, the Olympic champion and world record holder at 100m and 200m, or Asafa Powell, the former 100m world record holder.

Blake declined to respond to the allegation after teaming up with Bolt, Mario Forsythe and Antiguan Daniel Bailey to help the Racers Track Club win the 4x100m relay at Crystal Palace on Saturday in 37.46sec.

On the five positive tests, Bolt said: "We have to wait until the B sample is tested first before we know if it's serious or it's not. It didn't sound it but we don't know."

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