Canadian trainer Chris Xuereb denies giving drugs to sprinters
Sprinters Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson blaming "scapegoat for their own wrongdoing," Xuereb says
The Canadian trainer for Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson insists he didn't give the sprinters performance-enhancing drugs and says it's time for them to take "responsibility for their doping instead of looking around for a scapegoat."
Chris Xuereb was contacted by Kim Brunhuber of CBC News for an interview and the Toronto trainer responded via email. In his statement he says he has done nothing wrong since the Jamaican sprinters hired him in May to provide massage therapy and nutritional help.
I was hired by Asafa Powell and his agent, Paul Doyle, and began working in May, 2013. My primary responsibilities were to provide soft tissue massage therapy as well as nutritional help to manage the general health of these athletes. These athletes were suffering from chronic injuries they had before I started working with them. I worked extremely hard to help Asafa Powell and Sheron Simpson with their injuries. Most importantly, I did not provide any banned or illegal substances to Asafa Powell or Sherone Simpson.While I did recommend vitamins, all vitamins recommended by me were all purchased over the counter at reputable Nutritional stores and were major brands; Metagenics, SISU, AOR, Epiphany. I was instructed by the agent and athletes to buy these vitamins. All vitamins recommended by me were shown to the MVP club coach Stephen Francis. He has gone on record and confirmed the vitamins recommended by me did not contain any performance enhancing substance and were not what was found in Asafa and Sherone's positive drug testing findings.
Further all vitamins provided by me were found to be legal by the Italian Police. I do not know what these athletes were taking in addition to what I suggested to them. Although I suggested certain vitamins to these athletes it is ultimately the athlete's responsibility to accept or reject my suggestion. These athletes did not inform me that they were taking any additional supplementation other than what I recommended and it is obvious that these athletes were taking additional supplements that were not discussed or known to me. I was informed by the italian Police that other supplements were found in these athletes' possession. I cooperated fully with the Italian Police and provided answers to all their questions. I was not arrested or detained as alleged. I was simply questioned for several hours (as were Asafa and Sherone) and free to leave.
Unfortunately it appears that these athletes were not solely following my suggestions or WADA's guidelines. These guidelines are in place so all athletes can have a clean sport.Both athletes are clearly looking for a scapegoat. I am confident, and I have also spoken to researchers and the Police, that I have done nothing wrong.
It is very difficult at this time to assist some athletes without risk of being made the scapegoat in these situations. We need to remember that in addition to Asafa and Sherone, three other Jamaican athletes tested positive at the 2013 Jamaican trials. I had no contact with these athletes nor do I know them.
It is time the athletes took responsibility for their doping instead of looking around for a scapegoat whether that person is their therapist, bartender or anyone else. Athletes keep using the same story which is to blame the scapegoat for their own wrong doing.I am extremely disappointed that these athletes have chosen to blame me for their own violations. WADA and the public needs to stop accepting these stories and hold these athletes accountable.
— Chris Xuereb email to CBC
Powell, the former 100-metre record holder, and Simpson, a three-time Olympic medallist, tested positive for the stimulant oxilofrine at the Jamaican championships last month.
Their agent, Paul Doyle, contends something in the new supplements the sprinters were taking caused it and "Chris is the one that provided those."
The email quotes Xuereb as saying he was disappointed the athletes are blaming him for their violations.
"It is time the athletes took responsibility for their doping instead of looking around for a scapegoat, whether that person is their therapist, bartender or anyone else," says the email, which details Xuereb's relationship with the sprinters. "Athletes keep using the same story, which is to blame the scapegoat for their own wrongdoing."
Canadian hurdler Perdita Felicien had been approached by Xuereb in the past. The former world champion and two-time Olympian told The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti on CBC Radio on Wednesday that the trainer offered to work with her but she declined.
"It's something I wasn't interested in because I already had a team and I knew he didn't have the credentials," Felicien said.
Athletics Canada spokesman Mathieu Gentès confirmed to The Globe and Mail that Xuereb "had absolutely zero professional designations or credentials."
Felicien said she is surprised that a high-profile track and field star would take a chance on a trainer who didn't have the professional qualifications as a physiotherapist.
"I'm really surprised that Asafa and his camp would take a risk, having someone like Chris treat them — especially Asafa who is worth millions of dollars — and put your body and your vessel in his care. That's a risk."
Hotel raids turn up substances
Earlier Tuesday, Italian police formally placed Powell, Simpson and Xuereb under criminal investigation for violating the country's doping laws. The move came a day after Italian police confiscated unidentified substances in a raid on the hotel where the three were staying in the northeastern town of Lignano Sabbiadoro, following the athletes' positive tests.
Police told the AP the raids were executed after a tip from the World Anti-Doping Agency. Doyle said he and the sprinters worked in conjunction with WADA on the raid after becoming suspicious that Xuereb might have given them supplements laced with a banned substance. Doyle also said Powell and Simpson were aware of the impending raid, but Xuereb was kept out of the loop.
"Asafa and Sherone have been tested more than 100 times each through their career … and never turned in a positive test," Doyle told the AP in a phone interview. "Now they change their supplements and the first time they get tested, they have a positive test?
"It has to be something in those new supplements that has caused it. Chris is the one that provided those.
"We're not saying he did anything deliberate. But it's in those supplements."
In the email statement from Xuereb's account, he is quoted as saying he "did not provide any banned or illegal substances to Asafa Powell or Sherone Simpson."
The statement says all the vitamins Xuereb provided to the sprinters were found to be legal by Italian police.
"I do not know what these athletes were taking in addition to what I suggested to them," the statement said. "Although I suggested certain vitamins to these athletes, it is ultimately the athlete's responsibility to accept or reject my suggestion.
"Unfortunately, it appears that these athletes were not solely following my suggestions or WADA's guidelines. These guidelines are in place so all athletes can have a clean sport.
"Both athletes are clearly looking for a scapegoat. I am confident, and I have also spoken to researchers and the police, that I have done nothing wrong."
Doyle said that while the sprinters had been led to believe everything they were taking was untainted, he and the athletes should have been more responsible about which supplements they used.
"In hindsight, we should've been given a list, made sure we got a list," Doyle said. "The extent of what I did, I said to [Xuereb] in a text message, that all supplements have to be cleared by me first.
"He never cleared them with me. He did send them in an invoice that had the names of supplements in there that he had purchased.
"But that was it. I didn't have the ingredient list."
With files from CBCSports.ca