One Japanese kayaker will have to forget about representing his home nation in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Yasuhiro Suzuki was banned from competing for eight years after lacing the drink of a rival athlete to make him fail an upcoming doping test, according to ESPN.
Suzuki laced Seiji Komatsu’s water bottle with an anabolic steroid while competing at the Canoe Sprint Japan Championships in September 2017. Komatsu failed the test at the competition, which is part of the Olympics qualifying process, and was then suspended for taking a banned substance.
Following an investigation, the ban for Komatsu was overturned, the Japan Anti-Doping Agency announced on Tuesday. The JADA also announced that Suzuki was banned from competition for eight years.
After the original positive test, Komatsu denied ever taking any drugs or steroids, and the Japan Canoe Federation opened an investigation into the matter. The canoeing federation found out about what Suzuki did with the laced drink, and it also found that he previously “resorted to trickery at competitions, such as stealing other kayak racers' tools or gear,” according to NPR.
Following the positive test, Suzuki admitted to putting “a muscle-building supplement containing the banned steroid methandienone” in Komatsu’s drink out of guilt, according to the Japanese public broadcasting organization NHK.
This incident is unprecedented in Japan, as it’s the first time that a Japanese athlete failed a doping test because of deliberate contamination, according to the JADA.
"We apologize for causing trouble, not only to canoe athletes but also to those of all other sports," Japan Canoe Federation Director Osahiro Haruzono said, according to The Asahi Shimbun.
Both Suzuki and Komatsu were considered to be some of the top competitors for Japan's Olympic team. Following the incident, the canoeing federation said it will create a spot to safely store athletes' drinks at competitions, according to NPR.
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