Olympic Champ Says Tyson Gay Defamed Him
FORT WORTH (CN) - Olympic champ and sprint coach Jon Drummond sued fellow Olympian Tyson Gay and U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart, claiming they defamed him by accusing him of encouraging Gay to use performance-enhancing drugs that resulted in Gay's yearlong ban from competition.
Drummond, of Grand Prairie, won Olympic gold in the 4x100 relays at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, and won gold medals in the same event at the 1993 and 1999 World Championships. He began coaching soon after he retired from running in 2003.
In the lawsuit in Tarrant County Court, Drummond says he coached Gay from 2007 to 2012, and that Gay never tested positive during that time.
Drummond says he was "shocked" when Gay tested positive in July 2013, 10 months after he stopped coaching Gay.
"He 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 11-page complaint states. "As time went on, reports circulated that Mr. Gay had tested positive for a banned substance ostensibly received from [nonparty] Dr. Clayton Gibson, a chiropractor practicing in Atlanta, Georgia. Having met Dr. Gibson in the company of Mr. Gay in June 2012, Mr. Drummond found it difficult to understand how Mr. Gay could have encountered difficulties with any products he received from Dr. Gibson as he had personally instructed Mr. Gay to discard any products that he himself had not recognized as safe."
Drummond claims that Gay stopped training with him after the London Olympics in 2012 and that Gay never tested positive in 2012.
"However, in the summer of 2013, almost a full year after working with Mr. Drummond, upon testing positive for banned substances, Tyson Gay, on information and belief, explained his positive tests to USADA by falsely contending that Mr. Drummond had encouraged him to make use of the creams provided by Dr. Gibson and that his use of these creams had caused the positive test," the complaint states.
Drummond says he volunteered to provide sworn testimony to USADA in November 2013 and that USADA adopted an "adversarial posture" toward him.
Six months later, USADA told Drummond it would seek a lifetime ban against him. Drummond learned from USADA that Gay had "falsely sworn" in April 2014 that Drummond "actively encouraged" the use of the creams and that Drummond had personally injected him with various substances contained in a bag of drugs from Gibson in 2012, the complaint states. The USADA also is named as a defendant.
Drummond accuses Gay of stating under oath that Drummond talked about Gay using human growth hormone and that Drummond had vouched for Gibson's products.
"Tyson Gay made the false statements to USADA in full knowledge of their falsity for the purpose of persuading USADA to impose a lighter sanction on him for having tested positive for a banned substance," the complaint states.
"Indeed, in early May 2014, USADA announced that Mr. Gay would receive a light sanction allowing him to return to competition in the summer of 2014."
Tygart explained the lighter sanction by telling the media Gay had provided truthful assistance to the agency during its investigation, Drummond claims.
"By calling Gay's statements truthful to the press while at the same time bringing a formal action against Mr. Drummond, Travis Tygart intended to convey to and publish through the press that Tyson Gay's false statements about Mr. Drummond were accurate and that Mr. Drummond had engaged in the rule violations with which USADA had charged him," the complaint states.
USADA spokeswoman Annie Skinner said Drummond's lawsuit is "baseless."
Skinner told Courthouse News the lawsuit "is an effort to circumvent the mandatory arbitration process established to protect the rights of all clean athletes, coaches and the integrity of competition."
"Under the rules which were approved by athletes, the U.S. Olympic Committee and all U.S. sport federations, Mr. Drummond will have the opportunity to have his case heard by a panel of independent arbitrators, who will ultimately weigh all evidence presented and determine the outcome of the case," Skinner said Wednesday evening.
"As in numerous previous cases, we will ask the court to dismiss Mr. Drummond's lawsuit in favor of the well-established arbitration process."
Drummond seeks actual and punitive damages for defamation. He is represented by Mark Whitburn with Whitburn Pevsner in Arlington.