Olympic gold medal winner and track and field coach Jon Drummond is suing top sprinter Tyson Gay and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, alleging that they falsely accused him of administering and providing performance-enhancing drugs to the star athlete.
The defamation lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Tarrant County civil court against Gay and Travis Tygart, the chief executive officer of the USADA.
Gay was handed a one-year ban by the USADA this month and told to return his silver medal from the 4x100-meter relay at the 2012 Olympics after testing positive for a steroid at the U.S. championships in 2013.
Drummond, who coached Tyson from 2007 to 2012, said he was notified in mid-April that the USADA intended to seek a lifetime ban against him, preventing him from participating in any professional activities related to track and field, according to the lawsuit.
Drummond is still training athletes at his facility in Arlington.
“Mr. Drummond was a proponent for clean competition when he was an athlete and a coach,” said Mark Whitburn, one of Drummond’s attorneys. “He categorically denies any wrongdoing.”
Ann Skinner, a spokeswoman for the USADA, based in Colorado Springs, Colo., declined to comment Wednesday. Skinner said the agency had not received a copy of the lawsuit and wanted to review it before issuing a statement.
Gay did not get the typical two-year suspension because the USADA said he is cooperating with investigators and providing information on others who might have used performance-enhancing drugs.
Neither Gay nor his agent immediately returned messages seeking comment late Wednesday.
Drummond, a TCU great who has also won an Olympic silver, says in his lawsuit that Gay did not test positive for any performance-enhancing drug during the years he was his coach.
In fact, Drummond says, he used his position in the sport to speak out against using banned substances and also discussed the subject in his capacity as an ordained minister. He says no other athletes he has coached have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
But in July 2013, 10 months after Drummond stopped coaching Gay, the sprinter tested positive for a banned substance, according to court documents.
Drummond “was absolutely stunned when rumors began to arise that either Mr. Gay himself or others intended to blame this positive test on Mr. Drummond,” the lawsuit says.
Visit with chiropractor
According to court documents, Drummond and Gay visited an Atlanta chiropractor in 2012 and Gay obtained supplements to help relieve “nagging injuries.” The supplements were creams with labels stating that they included banned substances.
Drummond asked for an explanation, saying Gay could not take any “illegitimate” substances. Drummond was told that the creams actually included just food-based products. The chiropractor said the labels were for marketing to nonathletes not affected by the bans to help them better understand the products’ “function,” the lawsuit states.
Later, after Gay received a shipment of the products in Eugene, Ore., from the chiropractor, valued at $9,000, Drummond “unequivocally” recommended that Gay discard them. He did not feel they were “safe and appropriate.”
Drummond didn’t know the doctor well enough to believe his claims, documents state. Later, when Drummond and Gay were in Monaco, the coach says in the lawsuit, he threw many of the items in the trash and told Gay to get rid of the rest.
Gay competed in the 2012 Olympics in London and stopped training with Drummond afterward, the lawsuit states.
Bag kept under the sink
In summer 2013, a year after he stopped working with Drummond, Gay tested positive for banned substances. Gay told the anti-doping agency that the cause was the creams that Drummond had told him to use, records show.
Later, after meeting with the USADA, Drummond also remembered a bag of substances that Gay had received in 2012 from an unknown source, the lawsuit states. Drummond told Gay not to use anything in the bag, took it from him and stored it under a sink in his home. He later gave the bag to the anti-doping agency.
Eventually, Drummond discovered that Gay told the USADA that Drummond had injected him with substances from the bag in 2012 and had talked about the sprinter using human growth hormone, the lawsuit said.
After Gay made these statements, the USADA said he would receive the lighter sanction because he had cooperated in the investigation, allowing Gay to return to competition this summer.
In his defamation lawsuit, Drummond says the false statements injured his reputation as an honest track and field coach and athlete, exposing him to “public hatred, contempt, ridicule and financial injury by portraying him as encouraging the use of performance-enhancing drugs.”