Nigerian sprinter banned over failed dope test in latest 100m controversy

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The Independent Online

After the first positive doping test of the XIX Commonwealth Games, an embarrassing negative awaits.

Osayemi Oludamola, the Nigerian sprinter promoted to the gold medal position in the 100m final last Thursday after Sally Pearson of Australia was retrospectively disqualified for a false start, was placed under provisional suspension yesterday after her A sample was found to contain the stimulant methylhexaneamine. The results of her secondary urine sample are expected tomorrow morning and if that also proves positive Oludamola will be stripped of the gold and Natasha Mayers of St Vincent & Grenadines declared the winner of a race that will go down in history as one of the most troublesome in the Commonwealth Games' 80 years .

Mayers, who crossed the line third behind Pearson and Oludamola, just happens to have "previous" on the performance-enhancement front. She tested positive for excessive levels of testosterone in 2005 and served a two-year ban. The revised result would upgrade England's Katherine Endacott to silver. She is coached by Linford Christie, who has a doping conviction for the anabolic steroid nandrolone on his curriculum vitae.

Oludamola was "provisionally suspended" after attending a provisional hearing of the Commonwealth Games Federation Court yesterday. "The B sample result is expected within 48 hours," a statement from the Games Federation said. "Further details are not expected until Wednesday morning, Delhi time."

Manufactured as a nasal decongestant, methylhexaneamine is said to increase alertness and delay fatigue. It has been marketed as a dietary supplement and party pill. It was only formally placed on the World Anti-Doping Agency banned list at the start of this year and is to be downgraded in 2011 to a "specified stimulant," a category covering substances that are more susceptible to inadvertent use.

Five Jamaican sprinters registered positive for it last year. Four were given three-month suspensions; one was reprieved. Twelve Indian athletes from various sports were provisionally suspended after giving positive tests for methylhexanemine in September but all were subsequently cleared. Among them was Saurabh Vij, who was allowed to compete in the Commonwealth Games, finishing sixth in the shot put final last Thursday.

Officials of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria have blamed Oludamola's positive test on medicine prescribed to ease dental pain. "She took medication for her toothache and we strongly suspect that it was that which led to her failed drug test," Solomon Ogba, president of the Nigerian federation, said.

It is not the first time the spectre of drugs has emerged at the Commonwealth Games. In Victoria, Canada, in 1994, the Sierra Leonean sprinter Horace Dove-Edwin was stripped of the silver medal he won in the 100m behind Linford Christie after he tested positive for stanozolol, the anabolic steroid which powered Ben Johnson to his fleeting, infamous 100m victory at the Seoul Olympics in 1988.

At the 2002 Games in Manchester, Kim Collins of St Kitts & Nevis tested positive for salbutamol after winning the 100m but escaped with a warning when the Federation Court accepted that the drug had come from an asthma inhaler he was using.

Asked what damage Oludamola's failed test might do to the reputation of the 2010 Games, Mike Fennell, president of the Games Federation replied: "Any positive test is to be regretted because we are striving for a clean Games. We don't know what damage this will cause the Games but I want to assure everyone that we are being vigilant and the testing is of the highest standard."

In an ironic twist, on the penultimate night of track and field action, there was the redemption for Pearson, who had crossed the line 0.04sec clear of Oludamola in the 100m final last Thursday and embarked on a lap of honour – only to be disqualified four hours later. She left the stadium in tears of despair but wept joyfully last night after winning the 110m hurdles in 12.67sec.

England's Abi Oyepitan took silver in the 200m, clocking 23.36sec, while there was silver for Steve Lewis and bronze for Max Eaves in the pole vault.

Delhi diary: what to watch

* 6.30am Diving in

Early risers can catch Tom Daley and Max Brick in the 10-metre synchronised platform diving.

* 12.25pm Rugby Sevens final

After England face Samoa and Wales face New Zealand in early quarter-finals, the semis and final follow.

* From 1.00pm Track records

The track athletics comes to a head with four relays and an assortment of other finals. Look out for Nathan Douglas and Larry Achike in the men's triple jump.


TV: 9-11.30am, 1-2.15pm, BBC2. 11.30am-1pm, 2.15pm-5pm, BBC 1. Highlights: 7-8pm, BBC 2. Additional coverage on BBCi.

Medals table

1. Australia: 64 Gold; 40 Silver; 39 Bronze; 143 in in total

2. India: 30 Gold; 23 Silver; 28 Bronze; 81 in total

3. England: 27 Gold; 49 Silver; 35 Bronze; 111 in total

4. Canada: 23 Gold; 15 Silver; 28 Bronze; 66 in total

5. South Africa 12 Gold; 11 Silver; 9 Bronze; 32 in total

6. Nigeria 8 Gold; 7 Silver; 11 Bronze; 26 in total

7. Kenya 8 Gold; 6 Silver; 7 Bronze; 21 in total

8. Malaysia 7 Gold; 8 Silver; 8 Bronze; 23 in total

10. Scotland 4 Gold; 8 Silver; 7 Bronze; 19 in total

17. Wales 1 Gold; 5 Silver; 9 Bronze; 15 in total

24. N. Ireland 0 Gold; 1 Silver; 1 Bronze; 2 in total

Correct at close of day eight