Heralded Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown of sprinting powerhouse Jamaica is serving a suspension while anti-doping officials rule on her recent positive drug test, Jamaican athletics authorities announced Tuesday.
After days of swirling rumours, the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association announced that the 2004 and 2008 Olympic champion at 200 metres was suspended from competition while a disciplinary panel reviews the case. They said the matter is being handled according to rules of the International Association of Athletics Federations.
Warren Blake, president of the Jamaican athletics association, said Campbell-Brown "voluntarily withdrew herself from competition and accepted the provisional suspension."
Campbell-Brown's manager, Claude Bryan, said the accusation came as a "shock to her" and the 31-year-old champion is determined to clear her name.
"Veronica is not a cheat, she has via hard work and dedication accomplished a record on the track which is absolutely remarkable," Bryan said in a statement.
He said Campbell-Brown will not speak publicly during the disciplinary process in Jamaica but does not accept "guilt of wilfully taking a banned substance." Bryan said she is apologizing to her fans, sponsors and others for any embarrassment or hurt this "devastating news has caused."
The suspension will keep Campbell-Brown out of this week's national championships in Jamaica, where Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce are scheduled to run.
Dr. Herb Elliott, chairman of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission, told The Associated Press that he believes Campbell-Brown's B sample was returned Tuesday. He said the banned substance found in Campbell-Brown's samples at the May Jamaica International Invitational was a diuretic, but said it was not Lasix as some have speculated. He declined to provide the name of the substance.
Jamaican authorities will make public whatever comes out of the disciplinary hearings in coming days, Elliott said.
"We have nothing to hide," Elliott said during a phone interview. "I want to know how we're getting positive tests if we're not testing as some people insist."
Also a world champion at 100 and 200 metres, Campbell-Brown is among the most decorated athletes in Jamaica's sprinting history. The news that she allegedly broke anti-doping rules has come as a massive shock to many on the island, where she has been a beloved figure for over a decade.
"I just can't believe that she would do that after all the medals she's won," said Paulette Williams at a bustling vegetable and fruit market in the capital of Kingston. "Maybe somebody slipped something in her drink."
Other fans in Jamaica, where track and field is an obsession, were quick to note that Campbell-Brown trains in the U.S. and not Jamaica, like some of the island's other top sprinters. "It's the athletes that train over in the U.S. that seem to get caught up in this doping," said Lloyd Mark as he walked by a track named after Bolt at Jamaica's campus of the University of the West Indies.
The news caused major ripples in international track and field, where Campbell-Brown has been a major star for years. American sprinter Tyson Gay, who described Campbell-Brown as an old friend, said he was convinced the positive test must be due to some sort of mistake.
"We're all accountable for what goes in our system or what goes in our body. But at the same time, sometimes mistakes do happen," Gay told AP, adding that he texted Campbell-Brown the other day and she was devastated at the news.
Campbell-Brown grew up in the yam-growing parish of Trelawny - the same area of northwest Jamaica that produced Usain Bolt. She got her start racing barefoot against the boys in her rural hometown. She soon was blowing past tougher competition, winning the 100 and 200 at the World Youth Games in 2000, then helping the Jamaican 400-meter relay team to a silver medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney as an 18-year-old.
Four years later in Athens, she beat American Allyson Felix for the gold in the 200 and then helped the 400 relay to another gold.
Back in 2008, rumours floated around the Beijing Olympics that that competition would be her last Olympics. But she dismissed that as speculation.
"If I'm still running really fast, even if I'm 30, why retire?" she responded at the time. "The pace I'm running will determine when I retire."