Issam Asinga banned 4 years, has record stripped for doping positive

MONACO -- The sprinter who set the under-20 world record at 100 meters has been banned for four years and had his record stripped after anti-doping officials ruled against his claim that his positive test for a performance-enhancer came from eating "recovery gummies."

The Athletics Integrity Unit, which runs track and field's anti-doping operation, announced the penalties Monday for Issam Asinga, who ran a U20 record of 9.89 seconds in the 100 at the South American championships last summer.

Asinga plans to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Any ruling before the Paris Games later this summer appears unlikely.

"We just want to save Issam's career," his attorney, Paul J. Greene, said in a Zoom interview with The Associated Press that also included Asinga and his mom. "He just wants his life back."

The 19-year-old sprinter who represents Suriname burst onto the track scene by beating world champion Noah Lyles in April 2023 in a wind-aided time of 9.83

Asinga has been suspended since August, when he tested positive for a banned substance called GW1516, which was developed to build endurance and burn fat but failed medical trials when it was found to cause cancer during tests on rodents.

Asinga said he took gummies that were supposed to aid in his recovery. He said they were part of a Gatorade gift bag he received when he traveled to Los Angeles in recognition of being named the Gatorade Athlete of the Year for track and field.

"I'm in a position where I know I didn't do anything wrong, and I'm not going to give up on my dream," Asinga, who attends Texas A&M on a scholarship, told The AP. "It's just outrageous, disregarding the facts and just trying to twist the narrative against me."

Asinga said two containers of the gummies revealed the presence of the banned substance but the AIU panel that heard the case said he did not satisfy the burden of proof that the gummies were the source of the drug found in his sample.

In a statement issued Monday, Asinga said the lot number of the Gatorade Recovery Gummies that he consumed weren't the same as the ones tested in his case. His statement added that requests to "obtain a sealed container from the exact lot number for testing were denied by PepsiCo."

Added Asinga: "Sadly, in 2023 while I was still a high school senior, PepsiCo gave me a Gatorade gift package which contained Gatorade Recovery Gummies, displaying the industry-approved NSF Certified for Sport logo. The containers given to me were later tested at a WADA-accredited laboratory which identified that the product given to me was contaminated with GW1516, the same substance I tested positive for in trace amounts. Further, it turned out that the lot number on the containers given to me was NOT from an NSF-Certified for Sport lot."

Asinga said in the statement that while he respects AIU's role in protecting the sport, "I am devastated that they issued the harshest ruling without regard for these facts and the evidence presented, which showed that the product I was given and took the week before my positive test was contaminated. I am even more disheartened by misleading product labeling from a major corporation and their refusal to provide product samples needed to help an athlete they honored as their Gatorade Athlete of the Year."

The penalties scrub all his results since July 18, including the world-record time and the 100 and 200-meter crowns from last year's South American championships.

His mom, Ngozi Asinga, flew to Atlanta from Zambia to support him as he awaited the decision. She was an Olympic sprinter for Zambia, while Issam's father, Tommy, competed in three Olympics for Suriname.

"The next step is sharing the story enough to where it gets enough traction to where they (Gatorade) have to answer for why this all could happen to their product," Issam Asinga told AP. "Because I want to find out. I want to know what happened. I want to know how it got to this point."