Olympics: Japan slaps 8-year ban on canoeist for spiking competitor's drink to boost Tokyo Games hopes

Yasuhiro Suzuki (above) confessed to putting a banned muscle-boosting substance into rival Seiji Komatsu's drink bottle during a domestic competition in September 2017.
Yasuhiro Suzuki (above) confessed to putting a banned muscle-boosting substance into rival Seiji Komatsu's drink bottle during a domestic competition in September 2017. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan's anti- doping body has banned a top canoeist for eight years after he spiked a rival's drink with a banned substance to boost his own chances of selection for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

The Japan Anti- Doping Agency slapped sprint canoeist Yasuhiro Suzuki, 32, with the eight-year ban on Tuesday (Jan 9), slamming his offence as "extremely evil".

According to the the Japan Canoe Federation, Suzuki confessed to putting a banned muscle-boosting substance into the drink bottle of Seiji Komatsu, 25, during a domestic competition in September.

"Suzuki's conduct is totally contrary to the spirit of sporting fair play," the federation said in a statement.

The canoe body said it will consider expelling Suzuki permanently as he has a history of sabotaging competitors, including by stealing their equipment.

Suzuki admitted spiking the drink after receiving an intensive anti- doping lecture during a training camp, according to the federation.

"I was fretting. I did it as I thought he would overwhelm me. I didn't expect he'd actually test positive," public broadcaster NHK quoted Suzuki as telling the federation.

Komatsu won the race but was later provisionally suspended after he tested positive to the drug, which he strenuously denied using. His suspension has now been lifted.

Both Suzuki and Komatsu were among the top candidates to represent Japan at the forthcoming 2020 Olympics.