Tyson Gay has taken the first step towards rebuilding his shattered reputation following his one-year drug ban by making an immediate repayment of all the prize money and appearance fees he received since he started using a banned anabolic steroid in 2012.
The money, understood to be close to £300,000, will be returned to the promoters of five Diamond League meetings as well as an invitation meeting in Jamaica after the American sprinter admitted to the United States Anti-Doping Agency that he first used a cream containing the steroid on July 15, 2012. He insisted that he had no idea the cream contained a banned substance.
One of the five Diamond League meetings being reimbursed is the 2012 Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix, where Gay finished second behind Jamaica’s Nickel Ashmeade in a 200 metres race on August 26 of that year.
Ed Warner, the chairman of British Athletics, said that Gay’s American agent, Mark Wetmore, had already been in contact with the governing body to arrange repayment of the athlete’s prize money and appearance fee before British Athletics had the chance to request it.
“I can confirm the money is already on its way back from Gay’s agent,” Warner said. “They are aware their contract said the money was returnable if there was a doping violation but Mark Wetmore was on the case before we got on to it.”
Wetmore was unavailable for comment on Tuesday.
The other Diamond League meetings to be repaid are the 2012 Zurich Weltklasse, the 2012 and 2013 Athletissima in Lausanne and the 2013 Adidas Grand Prix in New York, while Gay’s appearance fee for the 2013 Kingston Jamaica International Invitational will also be returned.
The meetings earned Gay a total of $26,000 in prize money – he won $6,000 for finishing second in Birmingham and $10,000 for each of his wins in Lausanne and New York last year – but his prize earnings were dwarfed by the hefty appearance fees he commanded in 2012 and 2013.
Although appearance payments are kept confidential, an insider with knowledge of athlete negotiations said Gay’s status as the second fastest man in history after Usain Bolt meant he would have earned upwards of $80,000 per Diamond League meeting.
Gay, 31, who failed three drug tests in quick succession last summer, had been facing a maximum two-year suspension but was handed a reduced, one-year ban by USADA in return for the “substantial assistance” he provided to the agency during its investigation.
Gay’s confession that he used the banned substance for the first time on July 15, 2012, meant that he was committing a doping violation during the London Olympics, which opened 12 days later. He has since returned the silver medal he won as part of the United States 4x100m quartet. The rest of the team now stand to be stripped of their medals as well.
USADA’s decision to backdate Gay’s one-year ban to June 23, 2013, means he will be eligible to compete again at the end of next month, though invitations to race are certain to be thinner on the ground than they were before the drug controversy.
It is unlikely that he will be seen again in a Diamond League meeting in Britain based on the previous stance of the British Athletics board, which has refused to invite fellow Americans LaShawn Merritt and Justin Gatlin to any of its meetings since they served drug bans.