By Peter Gambaccini
On 6 July in Paris, Mariem Selsouli shocked (and upset) the track world when she recorded the fastest women's 1500-metre time of 2012. She had already served one drug suspension, as such many were rightly suspicious of her performance. The suspicions were warranted. Selsouli tested positive in Paris for a diuretic that could be a masking agent for other banned substances; she was disqualified from the London Olympics.
Rumours and suspicions of drug use in track and field persist. Some observers think the rate of offenses is still quite high; others believe that athlete education and improved testing have reduced the problem. On that, we can only speculate. But what we can do is tell you which runners who've previously been suspended from competition for drug-related reasons are now in London.
Men’s 3000m steeplechase
Hamid Ezzine, Morocco, served two years from 2009 to 2011 for refusing to take a test and for tampering with a test.
Justin Gatlin, United States, the 2004 Olympic gold medallist, tested positive in 2006 for "testosterone or its precursors." In 2001, he had tested positive for amphetamines apparently contained in a drug for treating attention deficit disorder. Gatlin was originally given an eight-year suspension for the second offense but it was subsequently reduced to four years.
Dwain Chambers, Great Britain, tested positive for the new steroid THG in 2003 and was given a two-year suspension. In a case that dragged out for months in the British newspapers, Chambers managed to overturn a lifetime Olympic ban levied by British officials.
Asli Cakir Alptekin, Turkey, apparently served a two-year suspension for a positive test at the 2004 World Junior Championships. This is mentioned in several sources, but the specifics are not.
Tatyana Tomashova, Russia, is one of a group of athletes from her country who were charged, just before the 2008 Olympics, with "fraudulent substitution of urine which is both a prohibited method and also a form of tampering with the doping control process." She was given a two-year suspension.
Christine Ohuruogu, Great Britain, who is the defending Olympic gold medallist in the 400, served a one-year suspension, ending in 2007, for missing three out-of-competition drug tests. The British Olympic Association originally banned her from the 2008 Games, but she successfully appealed that decision.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Jamaica, the defending Olympic 100m gold medallist, served a six-month suspension, ending in January of 2011, for testing positive for oxycodone, contained in a painkiller she was taking after a dental operation.
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