Earlier this month it was reported that former World Champion athlete Tyson Gay had failed an out of competition drugs test in May 2013. Gay won gold medals at the 2007 World Athletics Championships in the 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay events.

Shortly after the details of the failed test emerged, sports brand Nike, who have a big money sponsorship deal with Gay, announced that they had been left ‘shocked’ by the news and quickly moved to suspend their sponsorship deal with him with immediate effect. Gay, whose B Sample results, released yesterday, confirmed the findings of the A sample, says that he placed his trust in someone and had been let down. The American has not released a full statement but says he will accept whatever punishment is handed to him and hopes to run again in the future.

Adidas stated that each sponsorship agreement with its athletes includes a clear clause facilitating for the agreement to be terminated if the athlete is found to be using or in possession of any drugs or prohibited substance. Earlier this year Nike ended its sponsorship arrangements with disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong and his Livestrong Foundation.

The negative news for the sport of athletics was further compounded when it was announced on the same day that Jamaican 100 metre runner Asafa Powell had also failed a drugs test. Li Ning, the Chinese company sponsoring Asafa Powell, also suspended its sponsorship of the Jamaican in a similar manner.

The news of the drug scandal has not only caused anger from organisations associated with athletics, but has also been received with understandable annoyance from other athletes, who have competed against both Gay and Powell. One example is the British sprint relay team who finished in the bronze medal position in the 4×100 metre relay at the 2007 World Championships, behind teams containing Gay and Powell. Following the recent failed tests there has been a lot of support from within the sport to increase doping bans in athletics from two years to four years.

Here at Farleys we have experience of dealing with doping issues in sport and the contractual implications which may stem from such failed tests. Do not hesitate to contact us today in order to speak with one of our specialist sports lawyers for expert legal advice on any of these matters.

By Daniel Draper,
Sports Law Solicitor