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Asafa Powell, Sherone Simpson handed 18-month bans for failed drug tests

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Jamaican athletics has been rocked by the news that two athletes associated with its current golden generation, Asafa Powell and Sherone Simpson have each received 18-month bans for doping following respective hearings conducted by the island’s anti-doping disciplinary panel this week.

Powell, who won relay gold at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, was handed his ban Thursday morning by the panel for use of the banned substance, Oxilofrine. Two days earlier, Simpson, also a gold-medal-winning 4 by 100m relay winner at the 2004 summer games in Athens, was given the same ban for testing positive for the same banned substance at the national trials in Kingston last June.

Both bans, however, were backdated to June 21 of last year, meaning they will be eligible to compete again come December of this year. This rules them both out of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland this July.

Powell released a statement Thursday afternoon confirming the suspension, but continues to maintain his innocence.

"This ruling is not only unfair, it is patently unjust," it read, in part. "What has been handed down is clearly not based on the offense nor the facts surrounding it. My team has begun preparations for an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland. I want to reiterate that I have never knowingly taken any banned substances, I did all the necessary checks before taking Ephiphany D1 and it is my hope that The CAS will prove to be a more open and fair avenue for the review of all the facts in my case; facts and truth that the were not taken into to consideration at my initial hearing."

Simpson has also signaled her intent to appeal the ruling via the Court of Arbitration for Sport. She and Powell continuously insist that they never knowingly took the banned drug, claiming a supplement given to her by Canadian trainer, Chris Xuereb was tainted. Xuereb has maintained his innocence, claiming Simpson and Powell should take responsibility for their actions and not make him into a scapegoat.

Jamaican discus thrower, Allison Randall was handed a two-year ban by the panel for a similar offense.