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Japanese kayaker Suzuki gets ban for spiking rival’s drink

Yasuhiro Suzuki has been handed an eight-year suspension after drugging a rival with an anabolic steroid at last year’s national championships.

Japanese kayaker Suzuki gets ban for spiking rival’s drink

Japanese Kayaker Yasuhiro Suzuki has been banned for spiking the drink of a rival at last year’s national championships.

Suzuki, 32, spiked the drink of rival Seiji Komatsu with a banned muscle-strengthening substance, causing him to fail a doping test, the Japan Anti-Doping Agency (JADA) said on Tuesday.

The Japan Canoe Federation (JCF) announced on Tuesday that Suzuki, thought to be a candidate to compete at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, has been suspended from competition for eight years.

Komatsu was initially barred from competing in the qualification rounds for the Tokyo Olympics, but his punishment has now been nullified.

According to JADA, this is Japan’s first case of an athlete failing a doping test because of deliberate contamination.

"It is extremely regrettable. It is the kind of thing that has never been heard of in Japan’s sporting history," said Daichi Suzuki, commissioner of the government’s Japan Sports Agency. "It's the first time I have heard of such a malicious case."

Foul play

Both Suzuki and Komatsu competed in the kayak single 200 metres event at the 2017 Canoe Sprint Japan Championships.

“I wanted to be in the kayak four in the Tokyo Olympic Games, but I was ranked fifth with a younger kayaker higher than me. If this continued, I knew I would fail to qualify for the Olympics so I put in [the banned drug]," Suzuki said, according to The Asahi Shimbum.

In November, the JCF was informed that Komatsu’s test had come back positive. Despite the canoeist denying any wrongdoing, he was suspended from competing.

“I was overcome by despair that it would be impossible for me to participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It was mental anguish,” said Komatsu on January 10.

“[But] I was not able to prove [someone’s involvement]. Because of that, I was irritated. I doubted the people around me.”

Three days after Komatsu was banned, Suzuki confessed to Toshihiko Furuya, a director of the JCF.

“If Suzuki had not confessed, I would have faced a long suspension so I guess on that point I have to thank Suzuki for coming clean and confessing. Now I just have to focus on doing my best toward the Tokyo Olympics,” Komatsu added.

Track record

The JCF mentioned that this is not the first time Suzuki has resorted to trickery at competitions, as he has also been accused of stealing other kayak racers’ tools or gear.

The canoeing federation announced that in order to prevent similar incidents, a spot to store athletes’ drinks at competitions will be designated.

Also, lecturers will be invited to competitions to create a programme of talks based around the ideas of justice in sports and the spirit of fair play.


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